Cornell’s first four MOOCs to launch next semester

Any person. Any study. And now – any corner of the globe.

Beginning next semester, the university will offer its first four massive open online courses – commonly known as MOOCs – to the world at-large, allowing anyone to take Cornell classes from the comfort of their home laptop or desktop computer.

“Since Cornell University’s start nearly 150 years ago, the university has embraced its land-grant mission. Now with the advent of MOOCs, Cornell adds progression and more modernity to its mission to serve a broad, even global, community of learners,” said Laura Brown, senior vice provost for undergraduate education and chair of the new Distance Learning Committee. “MOOCs enhance our visibility for potential graduate and undergraduate students, and they open up and model opportunities for innovation in teaching through online methods that have a wide potential impact within and beyond Cornell.”

Brown explained that the four selected courses – from 15 submissions – are crisp, new offerings specifically tailored to Web learning. The courses, which were selected by a subcommittee of the Faculty Senate’s Distance Learning Committee, are:

  • “Relativity and Astrophysics,” taught by David Chernoff, professor of astronomy. The course will explore connections between astronomy and Einstein’s theory of relativity. It is intended to develop students’ insights into physics and quantitative skills, while instilling a sense of wonder for the universe. Scheduled start date: Feb. 3, 2014.
  • “Wiretaps to Big Data: Privacy and Surveillance in the Age of Complete Interconnection,” taught by Stephen Wicker, professor of electrical and computer engineering. The course will explain how cellular technology makes surveillance possible, how surveillance affects how we use cellular and other technologies, cellular user’s rights and how this system affects our democratic institutions. Scheduled start date: March 2, 2014.
  • “Networks,” taught by Éva Tardos, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Science; David Easley, the Henry Scarborough Professor of Social Science and professor of information science; and Jon Kleinberg, Tisch University Professor in computer and information science. To grasp how the modern world connects us all, students will explore game theory, Internet structure, social contagion, the spread of social power and popularity, and information cascades. Scheduled start date: March 7, 2014.
  • “American Capitalism: A History,” taught by Ed Baptist, associate professor of history, and Louis Hyman, assistant professor in the ILR School. The course will cover how the United States has gone from a backwater colony to a global power, revealing enduring lessons about what is possible in capitalism’s on-going development. Scheduled start date: March 17, 2014.

Last spring, Cornell entered into a partnership with edX to carry the courses. EdX is a MOOC platform founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to offer online, university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines to a worldwide audience free of charge.

Students will be able to register for classes at:

Registration for the “Relativity and Astrophsyics” MOOC will be available by mid-October. Registration for the other spring MOOCs will be available in mid-November.

Distance-teaching opportunities continue

The provost has now offered three distinct distance-teaching opportunities to faculty: Faculty can submit proposals for a 2014-15 MOOC through edX; for grant support for an innovative online or distance learning project independent of edX; and for developing online courses or modules on the edX Edge platform.

MOOC proposals should describe a specific planned course. Applications are due Dec. 15. Decisions will be announced by Feb. 15, 2014.

To submit a proposal for an online course or a distance learning innovation, independent of edX and the MOOC framework, faculty should submit pre-proposals by Nov. 1. Full proposals are due Dec. 15. Final decisions will be announced by Feb. 15, 2014.

To propose a course or module for the edX Edge Platform, which supports only small private online courses (SPOCs), designed for a limited audience, faculty should submit proposals by Nov. 15 or March 15, 2014. Decisions will be reached within a month of the application.

For information about the application process see:

Media Contact

John Carberry