The Levin College of Law opened its doors to thousands of new students from all over the world — online.
Law school faculty created the college’s first massive open online course, an introductory class on U.S. law. The MOOC is hosted on Coursera, a company that offers free, online education to anyone with no option for college credit.
“We developed a collaborative proposal with eight faculty members,” said Alyson Flournoy, senior associate dean for academic affairs at Levin. “We thought it would be interesting and engaging for students to learn from a variety of instructors.”
On Tuesday, Levin had 6,400 people registered for The Global Student’s Introduction to U.S. Law, and that number will continue to grow, Flournoy said.
There is no deadline for registration, and students can sign up for the course at any time during the eight weeks it will be available.
Jennifer Wondracek, head of e-services and technology at the law school, is one of the eight professors set to teach the course in May.
“This class is targeted toward undergraduate students, maybe high school students, who show an interest in law and the legal system,” she said.
Wondracek said the most exciting and challenging aspect of teaching the online course is the international audience.
“We’re really reaching out to students,” she said. “It’s a good introductory course and offers a glimpse of the UF law school.”
Jaclyn Selden, a 20-year-old UF wildlife ecology and conservation sophomore, has taken five classes on Coursera.
“I didn’t want to take both college classes and online classes at the same time,” she said. “I also wanted to have the opportunity to take courses just for fun.”
Law faculty began discussing the conception of the course last year with the UF Distance and Continuing Education Department.
Andy McCollough, associate provost for teaching and technology at UF, received an invitation from Coursera for the university to develop online courses.
“At the time, the first step in developing online classes for them was to be invited,” he said. “The next step was to be a member of the Association of American Universities.”
UF became a member of the association in 1985, McCollough said, and is the only university in the state to be a member.
The invitation from Coursera came due to the university’s academic reputation and participation in online education, he said.
UF offers a total of 11 courses on Coursera. That number will increase by mid-summer to about 13.
McCollough said the university is developing new insights on online platforms that resident students will benefit from.
“Ultimately, we’re enhancing our reputation and the value of a UF degree,” he said.
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 4/11/2014 under the headline "New MOOC opens for Levin College of Law, joins 10 UF others"]