Introduction to Systematic Program Design MOOC Launches

By Heather McCabe posted on May 31st, 2013

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UBC’s fourth massive open online course, or MOOC, Introduction to Systematic Program Design, launched June 3. Currently about 60,000 students have registered for the course.

The course, which teaches students with little or no computer programming experience how to build elegant and well-designed programs, has already established itself as a popular offering on campus, attracting 1,000 students each year. That is a good number for a non-required science course, says Gregor Kiczales, a professor of Computer Science who teaches the MOOC and is one of the instructors of the on-campus course.

Kiczales began making videos for his on-campus course last summer. These videos, which he has adapted for the MOOC, will form the instructional portion of the course. “With MOOCs,” he said, “You kind of inherently lose the personal connection, so the question is what do you get back? We’ve been trying to make use of the video to create a much better exposition. I think we’re doing a much better job of presenting certain aspects of the material than we’ve done before.” Kiczales will also be using the videos in his on-campus course where he teaches with a flipped classroom model.

Kiczales spoke on May 31 as part of a panel discussion at UBC, “Teaching, Learning, and the MOOC,” along with Daphne Koller, one of the founders of Coursera, currently the largest MOOC provider, and instructors from two other UBC MOOCs.

Introduction to Systematic Program Design is part of a pilot project launched by UBC to offer four core MOOC courses and provide an opportunity to research questions that relate to large numbers of learners, as well as pedagogical approaches that can be used with this emerging model.