Wednesday, September 26, 2012

First week

Well, my Useful Genetics course has been up on Coursera for a week, and 3500 people have signed up. Although that's not dazzling by Coursera standards, if signups continue at this rate there will be about 50,000 students by the time I send out the 'Useful Genetics starts soon' email in April.  I expect about half of the enrollees (is that a word?) will then say 'What was I thinking - I've no time for this!'.

Yesterday I met with the instructional technology people to discuss options for recording the many short videos we'll need.  The first decision needs to be between recording in my office or recording at UBC's Telestudios down the hill.  The latter would give better video quality and save me having to learn how to do it myself, but I'd be giving up the ability to make last-minute changes and to easily update videos from one session of the course to another. 

And this morning I had coffee with instructors for UBC's other two Coursera courses, Climate Literacy and Systematic Program Design.  We're coming from very different perspectives and experiences (both academic and pedagogical), so pooling our information and questions will be very valuable.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Useful Genetics!

Next spring I'm going to be teaching a 'massively open online course' (a MOOC) titled Useful Genetics.  You can read all about it here:

The motivation for this course arises from the opinion piece I published a few months ago in PLOS Biology - "Why do we have to learn this stuff?" a new genetics for 21st century students.  My goal will be to teach an academically rigorous genetics course that cuts out the no-longer-relevant stuff and emphasizes the parts useful to non-scientists.

It will be sufficiently different from conventional genetics courses that I think I'll have to develop most of it from scratch, including learning how to make videos.  Luckily I'll have the support of UBC's awesome Centre for Teaching and Learning Technology.

The current icon and promo video were made in a rush (UBC didn't get everyone on side until the last minute.  The video is OK for now, but the icon is slick and content-free:

I hope to soon replace it with something like this: