Duke University Philosophy Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong Has 180,000 Students In MOOC

In this photo taken Nov. 15, 2012, Peter Struck, Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania p
In this photo taken Nov. 15, 2012, Peter Struck, Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania prepares to record a lecture on Greek Mythology in Philadelphia. In 15 years of teaching, Struck has guided perhaps a few hundred students annually in his classes on Greek and Roman mythology through the works of Homer, Sophocles, Aeschylus and others — "the oldest strands of our cultural DNA." But if you gathered all of those tuition-paying, in-person students together, the group would pale in size compared with the 54,000 from around the world who, this fall alone, are taking his class online for free — a "Massive Open Online Course," or MOOC, offered through a company called Coursera. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

If college professors think a lecture hall full of 300 students is a big class, that would seem like private tutoring compared to the enrollment of a single philosophy Coursera class taught by a Duke University professor.

"Think Again: How to Reason and Argue,” a massive open online course co-taught by Duke professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and University of North Carolina professor Ram Neta, has 180,000 students registered to take it, the Charlotte News & Observer reports.

The large enrollment in the class makes it one of the biggest MOOCs to be offered, but many students dropped didn't stick around.

The News & Observer reports 70,000 never watched the first video posted online, and eight weeks in, 26,000 people were classified as active in the class. However, that's still far more than Sinnott-Armstrong said he could ever teach in a traditional setting. He estimated he's probably able to teach 8,000 students over a 40-year span, averaging around 100 to 200 each year.

"I've got almost a million downloads of my videos already," Sinnott-Armstrong said. "I mean, c'mon. That's just amazing! This is over 20 times as many students as I would reach in my career."

Meager completion rates are one of the reservations many college presidents hold regarding MOOCs.

Currently, completing a MOOC usually just rewards a student with a certificate, rather than any transferable academic credits. The American Council on Education is evaluating a few Coursera classes for possible credit.



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