By Loren Turner
A MOOC is a massive, open, online course offered by premier universities to students around the world without charge. Anyone with an internet connection can enroll in a MOOC course and pursue their studies on a variety of educational topics.
The three most popular platforms offering MOOC courses are: edX, Coursera, and Udacity. EdX provides MOOCs created by Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley, and is the only not-for-profit MOOC provider. Coursera and Udacity are for-profit providers and competitors that offer MOOCs from other premier institutions. Despite for-profit status, Coursera and Udacity do not charge students for MOOC courses unless students opt to join the “signature track,” which verifies student identity for current and future employers.
Initially, law schools were hesitant to offer MOOC courses in legal studies. But, within the last year, law schools have begun to embrace the idea as a way of exporting their brands, programs, and faculty to a global audience.
Last month, I, along with 7 other faculty members of UF Law (including Claire Germain, FCIL librarian, Associate Dean for Legal Information, and Clarence J. TeSelle, Professor of Law), completed the MOOC we launched in partnership with Coursera, titled The Global Student’s Introduction to U.S. Law. Although our MOOC focused on U.S. Law, comparative and international perspectives were encouraged in the video lectures, discussion forum prompts/posts, and research assignments. For example, Claire Germain recorded a video comparing the French and American jury systems. Also, Professor Sharon Rush prompted students to write discussion forum posts comparing the U.S. Constitution with the constitution of students’ home countries, which sparked a fascinating conversational thread for the benefit of all. Lastly, one of the three research assignments embedded in the course required students to explore the CISG database hosted by Pace Law School as part of their introduction to contract law.
If you are curious about MOOCs and would like to join one for fun (or for serious study), consider the following MOOCs directly related to foreign, comparative, and international law topics:
- English Common Law: Structure and Principles (Available on the Coursera platform. Taught by Adam Gearey, Professor at the School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London. Class is currently ongoing.)
- International Human Rights (Available on the edX platform. Taught by Olivier De Schutter, Professor at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, and at the College of Europe (Natolin). Class has ended, but students can still register and view class archives.
- Introduction to European Business Law (Will be available on the Coursera platform on January 5, 2015. Will be taught by a variety of faculty at Lund University. If you enroll in the course now, you’ll receive notice via email when class begins.)
Or, visit the edX, Coursera, and Udacity platforms for a full list of MOOCs in any topic area of your choice. Keep in mind that many MOOCs, like ours at UF Law, may initiate and encourage FCIL conversations even when the MOOC focuses on domestic law.
Have fun MOOCing! And please consider sharing your MOOC experiences (for better or worse) with the rest of us by commenting on this post or by volunteering to write a blog post about the MOOC course(s) you joined.