The Monday MOOC: Social Issues Through Comic Books

Social Issues Through Comic BooksChristina Blanch, who brought you the Gender Through Comics MOOC I mentioned last year, has a new MOOC beginning March 10th, 2014. The six-month course, Social Issues Through Comic Books will be examining “topics such as social inequality, the environment, government intervention, addiction, and information privacy” through the lens of comics such as Scalped, Daredevil, and Swamp Thing.

And while I’m on the topic, a brief word about the recent reports that MOOCs are taken largely by people who already hold degrees and that only a relative handful of MOOC participants actually stick around to the end. To that I can say guilty on both counts: I already have four degrees, and I’ve never actually completed any of the MOOCs I’ve begun. But since I only ever thought of MOOCs as a bit of idle edutainment anyway, not a replacement for the structure and support that comes with formal education, I’m not really all that disappointed. But, you know, sad trombone noise for all the higher ed administrators who thought MOOCs could ratchet up their student-to-instructor ratio a thousandfold…

The Monday MOOC: Society, Science, Survival

Photo Credit: Grmisiti
Photo Credit: Grmisiti
Next week, a team of faculty from University of California Irvine begin an eight-week interdisciplinary exploration of AMC’s post-apocalyptic zombie series The Walking Dead, entitled Society, Science, Survival.

The course will feature interviews with experts, as well as exclusive interviews with cast members, as the class explores topics like social order and structures, the spread of infectious disease, the role of public-health organizations, and post-apocalyptic nutrition. Oh, and if you’re one of my half-dozen readers, you can use the friend code 38LLXL when you enroll and possibly help me win swag.

The Monday MOOC: Game Elements for Learning

Game Elements for LearningWhenever I find myself bleary-eyed after hours of clubbing virtual bunnies in order to level my bunny clubbing skill, I can’t help but think how industrious I would be if there were meaningless virtual rewards attached to my actual real-world activities. That may sound like sarcasm, but sadly, it’s true.

Game Elements for Learning is an upcoming “mini-MOOC” running for four weeks starting on July 1st. It’s aimed at educators, primarily those teaching online, who want to integrate game elements in their courses. And if I can actually pull myself away from building my virtual library in Skyrim for a few hours a week this summer, I might drop in and check it out myself…

Teaching Writing Through Interactive Fiction Game Design

ZorkI figure at least some of you young’uns play Zork ironically these days, so I may not need to explain what the hell interactive fiction games are. But back in the day, a lot of our computer games were little more than digital Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels. Yes, days ago in yesteryear, we had to read our games.

Well, one enterprising high-school English teacher is sowing a whole new crop of old-school nerdery, teaching creative writing by having his students create text-based, interactive games. You can see (and play) the students’ games on this thread. Sadly, I tried a few and found no grues, but I appreciate the effort.

The Monday MOOC: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Pop culture has been a fringe subject for academic inquiry for decades now, but it’s really exploded in recent years. So it’s not surprising, especially given the medium, to see those sort of courses appearing with some frequency on the big MOOC platforms.

Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative by Vanderbilt’s Jay Clayton looks like a promising example. Starting in July of this year, the course will use the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG as its central example of how stories are transformed across media. Sounds like there’s a bit of Keats and narrative theory thrown in for good measure, but also a bit of hanging about in Bree with dwarves and hobbits and such.

Hopefully, it won’t be like the library school class meeting I once had in Second Life. Only once does a class need to be interrupted by an intoxicated Bronie and his detachable phallus to make you question the usefulness of virtual worlds as an educational platform…