While the University of Wisconsin’s Massive Online Open Courses had high worldwide enrollment numbers last year, they will have a more local focus this year, including a hands-on aspect at the end of the semester.
The first MOOC of the 2014-15 school year will focus on perceptive hunting, conservation and influential 20th century Wisconsin outdoorsman Aldo Leopold’s ideas.
The course, titled The Land Ethic Reclaimed, is one of six upcoming MOOCs planned for the 2014-15 school year. Over 3,600 people from all over the world have registered for The Land Ethic Reclaimed, Lika Balenovich, communication coordinator on educational innovation, said.
UW first offered four different MOOCs as a “pilot” last school year on the topics of videogames, higher education, the knowledge economy and human evolution.
The MOOCs have a global outreach, with larger MOOC’s enrollment in the thousands.
“It really varies highly depending on the topic of the course … Our video games MOOC had 58,501 enrolled,” Balenovich said.
The target audience for MOOCs is young adults who are interested in the course topics but do not have any previous knowledge on the subjects, Balenovich said.
Despite high worldwide enrollment numbers from last year, the focus of MOOCs this year is going to be “slightly less global and a little bit more local this time around,” Balenovich said.
“What we are really trying to do this time is target our marketing and events to be specific to the state of Wisconsin and citizens of Wisconsin, alumni, people in the area,” Balenovich said.
The first course’s online lectures will be given by environmental studies professors Paul Robbins and Janet Silbernagel, as well as professor of forest and wildlife ecology Timothy Van Deelen.
The online course includes not only relevant videos made by the professors, but also new content for participants that will be released weekly throughout the month, Balenovich said. In addition to materials, registered students can access a discussion forum with fellow learners from across the world where instructors can answer their questions, she said.
UW is partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Aldo Leopold Foundation to give some MOOC participants a “hands-on” outdoors experience, John Motoviloff, Wisconsin DNR hunting and shooting sports assistant, said.
The course will culminate in a weekend of optional outdoor activities at the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, Wis., that include pheasant hunting, outdoor cooking and deer-skinning demonstrations led by Motoviloff.
“As far as the cooking event and the pheasant hunting event, those are limited to about twenty folks… That’s the capacity, determined by the space we have,” Motoviloff said.