MOOC Countdown – 5 Days till Walt Whitman’s

Well, we’re having problems getting my sister’s friend into the MOOC. It seems she has suddenlink email out in the country, and they are having trouble pasting the link she received from edx into her browser. More on that to come.

MOOCs are beginning to catch on – maybe not with the originally intended audience (we’ll have to work on that, right?), but with us academics – and of course others as well. But a colleague from South Carolina, whom I do not know, posted this in a comment to one of my posts: “I hope you have a great time in your MOOC. Like you, as an academic, the whole MOOC thing intrigues me. I loved my statistics MOOC and am looking forward to more of them.”

I wonder where MOOCs will go. I do hope that their original goal of providing free access to education for everyone, including under-served groups across the globe, will one day become a reality. Right now many MOOCs are in English, centered in the Western tradition and most probably with Western mindset/worldview tendencies, from what I have heard — and maybe with Western-centered topics. Wouldn’t it be great to pair topics, cultures, and languages? For example, our Harvard professor could team teach a course with a Chinese professor comparing Walt Whitman to some Chinese poet. Wouldn’t that broaden the conversation and open up the possibilities for greater understanding between and among people? Cultural context, culture-specific history, worldviews, culture-specific use of language and concepts would all come into play. And the course could be taught in both English and Chinese. What a challenge! But what an opening up of the world to the world.

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2 Responses to MOOC Countdown – 5 Days till Walt Whitman’s

  1. Couldn’t agree more. The University of Iowa’s new Whitman MOOC is trying to address some of these points by using the online Whitman Web gallery of Song of Myself, which includes translations and discussion forums in 13 languages, including Chinese, Farsi, Arabic and Malay:

  2. 3rings says:

    Thanks for that feedback, Ashley. That is heartening to see! And the course itself looks really interesting! It’s only the beginning of exchanges going global. What opportunities there are and will be! Thanks again.

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