Making education available to online learners around the globe, East Carolina University is now offering its first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
ECU professors Dr. John Drake and Dr. Elaine Seeman are collaborating on a new open online course focused on Asian economies. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)
ECU faculty members Dr. John Drake and Dr. Elaine Seeman, and Dr. Ramin Maysami of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, opened the course, “The Transformation of Asian Economies,” on May 19.
Drake and Seeman explained that with North Carolina’s tightening educational budget, universities are being challenged to effectively educate more students with fewer funds. “This MOOC demonstrates that ECU can continue its leadership in distance education and better achieve its mission in these fiscally challenging times,” said Drake.
The free seven-week course was developed collaboratively by ECU and UNC at Pembroke with a grant from the UNC General Administration.
The course focuses on successes and failures of government policies in promoting economic growth, the role of culture in shaping such policies and what lessons can be learned and applied to newly emerging economies. “Our primary goal was to help students understand the process that countries go through to move from developing to developed economies,” said Drake, assistant professor of management information systems in ECU’s College of Business.
So far, more than 80 students from around the world have enrolled. “We have a lot of students from Russia, Peru, and professionals working in the world trade,” said Seeman, associate professor of management information systems in ECU’s College of Business.
The course, which has been in development over the past year, incorporates online discussion forums for students to share their stories and personal experiences related to the topic. “What we’re running right now is a kind of a pilot, or a proof of concept,” Seeman said. “The idea is that over time, the course will get richer and richer.”
Drake said that offering the MOOC is one of many ways that ECU can serve the community. “Hopefully we can do more of this in the future,” he said. “I hope that ECU can work together with professors to develop more materials that can reach out to much wider groups of people.”
Seeman, who has been developing and teaching online classes since 1995, said that MOOCs and other forms of distance education make learning available to people who may not have the opportunity to attend a university. “There are different ways that people learn, and this works very well for some people,” she said.