This post was written by Hatchet reporter Zunara Naeem.
GW announced its first massive open online course Friday – a non-credit class on the Federal Reserve that will likely launch next fall to boost the University’s academic brand.
Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online education and academic innovation, said GW chose to focus its first MOOC on the Federal Reserve because of the mystery and misconceptions surrounding the institution, which controls the country’s monetary policy with relatively little oversight.
“There really are very few institutions that are simultaneously so important, and so little understood as the Federal Reserve,” Berman said.
The course will draw from material from GW’s seminar series on the Fed, which included courses Fed chairman Ben Bernanke taught in the GW School of Business last year. It will also use an event with former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and other material from academics and politicians in the course.
GW will begin to offer the course as the Fed reaches 100 years of existence. For much of that history, the central bank has been closed off from the public discourse, though that is beginning to change in the wake of the financial crisis.
The University will partner with Pearson Education, Blackboard and In The Telling, a documentary education information system, to produce the online course. Students will watch documentary film footage, see instructional tools and use interactives in the class, Berman said.
Universities around the world started offering MOOCs about two years ago, usually partnering with companies like Coursera or Udacity. The courses were initially heralded as a way to offer increasingly pricey higher education to the masses, but that frenzy has softened as students fail to finish the classes or meet learning objectives.
Berman has said that GW will offer a series of open online courses in some of GW’s strongest academic subjects, like politics and international affairs.
But the approach appears to take into account national skepticism about the effectiveness of MOOCs. The University will use the courses in a way that Provost Steven Lerman has said would be like a “PBS special.”
He said Friday that administrators do not see the course as the typical classes the University offers.
“It’ll have a feel and texture to it which is less like, ‘I’m going to a class,’ and more like some really good journalists got together and tried to intelligently explain the various aspects of the Fed’s operation,” Lerman said.