Thursday, August 22, 2013

You've seen the film, now do the MOOC!

CC BY-NC Some rights reserved by Sara Roegiers
Could MOOCs develop into an interesting media spin-off? Today it's not enough to write a book or make a film, you need to add the interactive game, the soundtrack album, tee-shirts, toys and all other merchandising. So why not add on a MOOC to the package allowing you to investigate the subject matter in more detail? The MOOC could offer a pathway for people to move from enjoying a good film/book to really investigating the issues behind it. Combine the game with the MOOC and a whole new educational genre awaits us.

This seems to be a bit of the thinking behind a new MOOC featured in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Sabato’s Kennedy MOOC Has a Companion Book and a TV Special. A new Coursera course offered by the University of Virginia, The Kennedy half century, looks like attracting considerable global interest. Professor Larry J. Sabato who will teach the course about the political career of President John F Kennedy is tying the new MOOC to his recently published book on the subject, The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy, as well as a new TV documentary. There is of course a hint of self promotion here but by tying the different media channels together you get a compelling package. Have a look at the course trailer film below.

However it isn't this particular example that interests me. The idea is that an open online course could become a common add-on to films and books allowing people whose interest has been aroused to gain a deeper insight into the issues raised. Historical films, biographies, films from literature and so on could come with a follow-up MOOC to study what really happened, read more of the author's works, investigate a political career etc. The courses could range from academic studies to pure general interest. Why not MOOCs for kids linked up with popular films? It's a long way from Harvard but if it encourages more people to be curious and study more then I'm in favour.

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