University announces new Jeffersonian MOOC

Coursera to host six-lecture class

The University has announced the launch of a new massive open online course —“Age of Jefferson” — set to open Feb. 17 through Coursera.

The course is a joint effort led by John Simon, executive vice president and provost, and Jeff Legro, vice provost of global affairs, who envisioned a MOOC with a close association to the state and the University.

“The inspirations was that U.Va. was not well known out there in the world, but everyone knows Jefferson and Jefferson is U.Va.,” Legro said.

History Prof. and Jefferson expert Peter Onuf will teach the course.

“I didn’t want to be a video star — at first I thought of myself as consulting [on the project],” Onuf said. “I suggested to [Legro] that there are not a lot of people who spend a lot of time on Jefferson.”

Though the MOOC will be open to students from across the globe, Legro said he expects the course’s audience to be largely regional.

“People that are going to take interest in this resource are probably going to be closer to Virginia,” he said.

The course was initially developed and produced independently from Coursera, and was not intended to function as a traditional MOOC.

“There was always the idea that this particular MOOC would not be a conventional course for credit, but an opportunity to develop something about Jefferson that would be interesting to the community,” Onuf said.

Experts from the Provost’s office and Kristin Palmer, director of the University’s online learning programs, played lead roles in converting the course to a MOOC.

In addition to various historians at Monticello, Arts & Sciences Graduate student James Hrdlicka played a lead role in developing course content.

Hrdlicka represented Onuf during the day-to-day production of the course. He helped edit lectures for content and writing outlines, along with development supplemental material for the course.

The course will be divided into six 50-minute lectures. Topics include Jefferson’s views on the Declaration of Independence, slavery, religion and the separation of church and state. Many lectures and topics are borrowed from Onuf’s semester-long course on Jefferson that he has taught in the past.

The course will be available on iTunes after its completion.

Published February 4, 2014 in FP test, News

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