For the first time, the iSchool's Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity (CIAC) offered a free online information security course as part of University of Washington's initial partnership with Coursera, a for-profit company that "partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free." The courses are known as MOOCs, or Massively Open Online Course. More than 20,000 people registered for the fall term class with about half completing it. UW is hoping some of the people register for course for credit and pay the associated tuition.
Seattle Time's reporter Katherine Long interviewed David Szatmary, vice provost of UW Educational Outreach.and Barbara Endicott-Popoveksy, iSchool professor and director of CIAC, for an early look at the partnership and the future of MOOCs at UW.
"Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, who directs the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at the UW's Information School, taught the information-security course. She came away from her first MOOC convinced that the idea is here to stay.
"It's not going to replace the classroom, but it is going to occupy a space," she said.
In university circles, there's a debate over whether the courses are academically robust, but "there's no doubt in my mind that learning takes place, that people are seriously interested in learning" when they participate, Endicott-Popovsky said. About half the students who enrolled completed the class, she said.
Endicott-Popovsky said she got to know some of her online students fairly well, and they were highly qualified in their fields, working from locations that spanned the globe.
Some of her students formed a study group that walked Green Lake in Seattle while discussing the course. Another study group formed in Germany. More than 200 worked together on the course in Moscow. (The course does not cover highly technical, proprietary information, nor does it cover secret information, she said; its focus is information security in business and commerce.)"