What is it like to teach a free online course to tens of thousands of students? Dozens of professors are doing just that, experimenting with a format known as Massive Open Online Courses. And there are more providers than ever, some working with elite universities, and others that allow any professor to join in.
The Chronicle asked four professors, teaching on different platforms, to share their thoughts on the experience so far. The responses are based on e-mail interviews, which have been condensed and edited for publication.
"You find things in the version of the course you know well and wonder, Now why did I hang onto that? And then you run into other things and are reminded of why they're so important."
"This is different from classroom lecturing since the students are not there when you are doing it (most of the recording is done alone), and the recording will be edited to produce the class."
"I hope that the willingness of American university professors to do free MOOC's will enhance the image of universities among Americans, many of whom think of tenured university professors as people always looking to get out of teaching, always obsessed with their own research."
"Some people seem to treat MOOC's as a type of religious experience."