In a previous post, I conjectured about whether the MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) format could support a Humanities class or if the sheer bulk of students would limit the form to those courses that could evaluate student learning with computer-gradable quizzes. (There is, of course, all this recent buzz about the relatively accurate grading of standardized test essays by computers, but hopefully a Humanities course would encourage students to write slightly less formulaic—and thus less easily gradable—work.)
As it turns out, UPenn is preparing to put the Humanities MOOC idea to the test with an upcoming course on “Modern and Contemporary American Poetry.” According to the site, each video for the course will show the close reading of a single poem in a classroom-based discussion. Students will be expected to submit “short essays” and to participate in discussion forums. Needless to say, I’m eager to know how this works out—logistically and otherwise. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until September. In the meantime, I’ll be occupying myself with Udacity’s well-designed Computer Science 101 MOOC, which teaches the basics of Python programming. If Penn can do for poetry what Udacity’s done for Python, major props will be in order.