Kansas State University announced Thursday that it is joining the flurry of schools offering “Massive Open Online Courses” that are broadening access to higher education.
The MOOCs allow tens of thousands of students to take a class at the same time, but the rate of students dropping out of the generally free, digital courses hovers around 90 percent. Some experts say MOOCs can’t replace traditional classroom learning, especially for struggling students who need more face-to-face interaction and mentoring to succeed.
Kansas University has no MOOCs and isn’t interested in them.
“At KU, our educational emphasis is on student learning and student academic success, and MOOCs have not been shown to be effective avenues for student learning and generally don’t lead to degree attainment,” said Errin Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations.
The Kansas State Global Campus’ first MOOC, titled “Health and Wellness 101: Everyday Small Changes,” will cover a wide range of topics, including meal planning, healthy cooking, body image, physical activity, substance abuse and stress management.
Linda Yarrow, an assistant professor of human nutrition who led the development team for the course and will teach its first cycle this fall, said that the class format encourages instructors to be creative and innovative. The course will feature videos and interactive games. Students will be able to communicate through message boards and participate in weekly real-time chats with a registered dietitian about how they can apply what they are learning to their own lives.
“MOOCs can reach people anywhere around the world in an efficient and asynchronous manner, making them ideal for outreach education in ways the traditional classroom can’t achieve,” Yarrow said.
The first cycle of the course will be taught Oct. 6 to Nov. 15, with content remaining open to students until Dec. 12.
Yarrow said the course isn’t for college credit, but she saw it as a way to disseminate information that will help people and possibly get them interested in other program options at K-State.