Would you like a zombie for a teacher? Most likely not, but if you sign up for a new MOOC (massive open online course) called “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead,’” that’s more or less what you’ll be getting.
In reality, the course is a collaboration between AMC, education technology company Instructure and the University of California at Irvine. While cynics will suggest this is just a cheap publicity stunt to generate more buzz for an already very popular show, they’d really be a bit off base in this case. The 8-week class uses content from the show to examine such real world issues as Maslow’s hierarchy, public health and pandemics and the science of hope.
The idea of using a popular show to teach dryer subjects is nothing new and using interactive technology to do so, makes a great deal of sense. MOOCs have been a very mixed bag thus far with dismal completion rates and wildly varying levels of quality. Many people see these classes as a cheap (or free) alternative to high priced college courses and some supporters suggest the completion rate is low in that students simply take what they need from the courses and move on, much like traditional students did in the past by auditing classes.
Instructure is a new player in the MOOC field and this is a new play for AMC, so the final results will be very interesting. If things go well, AMC may use other popular shows in similar ways but one hopes that not all MOOC teachers will be as inclined to eat their students as those in the Walking Dead.
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Image courtesy of AMC.