WVU to offer free course on social media
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 06:01
Everyone is familiar with online courses hosted through colleges and universities, but what if some of those classes were free and open to the public?
The Department of Communication Studies in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University is doing just that by hosting a Massive Open Online Course, also known as a MOOC.
Massive Open Online Courses are online, nontraditional courses aimed at large-scale participation and open access on the web. The courses will focus on the role of communication technology and how it impacts daily lives.
WVU’s course begins Feb. 4 and is four weeks long, with each week covering a different topic.
"The WVUCommMOOC is not a course for credit; it is a free, ungraded event designed to allow the public to explore some of the current issues involving the role of communication technologies in our personal and professional lives," said Matt Martin, chair of the Department of Communication Studies.
This nontraditional course is being offered for the benefit of anyone interested. There are no grades, fees or credits involved, and it is free to everyone.
"We are not talking about a course that we teach and offer it to everyone," Martin said. "But we recognize that we have some information that might be of value to individuals – particularly to our alumni, individuals who may have not had any social media classes, because they basically didn’t exist when they were here."
MOOC is based on optional participation. Individuals can choose when and what to partake in. One of the main ideas of MOOC is to encourage individuals to build their own material – whether that means holding separate discussions or forming Facebook groups, the idea is to expand for personal gain.
"The idea of open is that it’s free, there’s nothing to purchase at any time. One needs computer access, but beyond that, the information is going to be there," Martin said.
Stanford University once hosted a MOOC that attracted more than 100,000 students.
Following Stanford’s lead, the Department of Communication is creating its own version of open education.
"Some of our individuals who teach social media came up with different units and we’re going to have four different weeks where we are going to focus on these different areas of social media," Martin said. "The professors teaching this are top in the area."
The course begins week one with Nick Bowman presenting "Learning to Cope With Our Robot Overlords."
Week two, Dave Westernman will teach "Love at First Like." Week three will have Alan Goodboy and Matt Martin addressing "Cyberbullying: The Dark Side of Online Communication." The course wraps up with Elizabeth Cohen concentrating on "This is Your Brain, This is Your Brain on Media: Understanding and Conquering Technology Overload."
Full course descriptions are available at http://wvucommmooc.org/course-descriptions/.
Week two will deal closely with a timely topic. Just in time for Valentines day, the class will address many issues surrounding the topic of online relationships.
The subject has been increasingly popular in the news and entertainment media recently due to the Manti Te’o controversy and MTV’s show "Catfish."
"We will talk about several issues related to these topics," Westernman said. "I hope to get people thinking about how people use social media in their relationships and how they can be used."
Even for current students, there are benefits to looking into MOOC. Anybody interested can register for free online at wvucommmooc.org/register/.
"The individuals that are participating are being exposed to some of the stronger professors in the field, and not all individuals all have access to that," Martin said.
"We hope that people of all ages and walks of life will take advantage of the expertise of our faculty and this new learning opportunity."