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College Q&A: UHV's first Massive Open Online Course draws 5,400 students

By By Jeremy Shapiro
April 19, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 18, 2014 at 11:19 p.m.


My cousin told me she is enrolled in a free online class at the University of Houston-Victoria with thousands of other students. How is it possible that so many students are taking the class, and will other classes like it be offered?

Teaching slightly more than 5,400 students through an online, four-week education course sounds daunting, but Andria Young, a University of Houston-Victoria associate professor, is embracing it.

Young is teaching "Applying Principles of Behavior in the K-12 Classroom" as UHV's first massive open online course. The class is geared toward teachers who want to learn more about assessing behaviors in the classroom in order to create effective interventions. Young and Bev Hoerig, an instructional designer at UHV, developed the course on Coursera, a national platform for free online courses.

"To me, the more people who sign up, the better, because I have been able to provide information to people about principles of behavior in the classroom," Young said. "It also will give me an opportunity to tell students from all around the world about online educational opportunities in the UHV School of Education & Human Development."

Massive open online courses are free or low-cost online classes that typically have unlimited participation and open access. Anyone in the world - no matter their age or location - can take the course, which runs through May 4.

"I have been pleasantly surprised about how relevant the course is to educators across the world," Young said. "There are students in the class from Africa, the Philippines, Germany, China, Malaysia, India, South Korea and Greece."

Young and Jeffrey Cass, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs, weren't sure how many people would enroll. Even after the course began April 4, students kept enrolling.

"Small universities can offer these courses," Cass said. "What remains unclear is what business model will emerge to make it work in the marketplace."

Young said students have quickly jumped into posted discussion questions and have asked her about course content.

"That behavior told me that the students who signed up are really eager for this type of course and are interested in taking full advantage of the opportunity," Young said. "I have been surprised at the volume of discussion posts."

While UHV does not currently have any other massive open online courses in the works, Cass suspects more may be developed later on.

"Overall, I have to say that teaching this massive open online course has been an incredible experience," Young said. "The other day, I was sitting at my desk after posting on the discussion board thinking about how amazing it is to interact with students from many different countries regarding a subject I am passionate about."

Do you have a question about the University of Houston-Victoria? Contact Jeremy Shapiro, UHV communications specialist, at 361-570-4296 or shapiroj@uhv.edu.

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