Temple launches free online course

As a medical student, Paul Millhouse was encouraged to enroll in an online MBA program but was concerned about beginning a 20-month MBA program while waiting to start a medical residency program.

The solution?

Millhouse enrolled in Temple’s first massive open online course, or MOOC, which is free and offers students the chance to earn credits which can count toward a future MBA degree. The course, Quantitative Methods for Business, is being offered in the Fox School of Business Online MBA program this fall and uses the Blackboard system.

“I think it’s pretty awesome that it’s free,” said Millhouse, who studies at Drexel University College of Medicine. “It’s going to open the door to a lot of people who are interested in an MBA.”

The graduate course was developed and is taught by Darin Kapanjie, managing director of Fox Online and Digital Learning and academic director of the Fox Online MBA and BBA programs.

The course offers the same rigor, standards and pace of the online MBA program, Kapanjie said, adding that it’s an opportunity for those considering the MBA program as well as business professionals who want to brush up.

MOOCs – with open enrollment and often free – have been growing in popularity.  Nearby in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania is one of 90 global partners of Coursera, an education company that offers free online courses in everything from pre-calculus to Roman architecture.

Despite the growth in popularity, controversy about the MOOC concept, and its effectiveness, continues.  Last month, San Jose State University decided to freeze its relationship with Udacity, a major player among MOOC providers, after an audit of its pilot program revealed serious concerns.

Although skeptical of the MOOC concept at first, Kapanjie said he is pleased with how the course is working out.

“It’s been really exciting and really rewarding,” said Kapanjie, who is also an assistant professor in the statistics department.

Approximately one third of the students enrolled in Kapanjie’s course are taking it for a waiver, about half want to earn a certificate of completion and the remaining students are interested in watching some of the videos and participating in some activities.

The course uses a virtual “flipped” model of teaching in which the students get lecture materials outside of class and spend weekly class meetings participating in activities.

Michelle Held, who has a small business that focuses on social media and Internet strategies, registered for the course because she thought it might be useful in her charity work.  Held sits on the board of Kind Quilts, a Lahaska, Pa. charity that organizes the sewing and shipping of patchwork quilts for the seriously ill.

“It has some real day applications right now,” Held said, adding that she is “really grateful that they’re doing these online classes” because the information is useful even if a student isn’t planning to continue on in the MBA program.

Vicki Lewis McGarvey, vice provost for university college, said in an e-mail that MOOCs are “a good way to experiment with technology and teaching techniques that can be applied to credit-bearing programs” and that Temple faculty and administrators are closely following developments.

Although pleased that Kapanjie’s class is getting attention and acknowledging that there may be “a few more” MOOCs in the future, McGarvey said “Temple’s primary focus will continue to be on providing our students with a pathway to graduation in four years and preparing them to be ‘real-world ready.’”

Amanda Thompson can be reached at tub06947@temple.edu.

 

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