“I want to encourage an innovative method related to education for university students to adjust to a changing 21st century.” These words were spoken by Barack Obama, president of the U.S.A. He also suggested use of the recent educational method, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). Globally, many countries throughout the world such as China, Japan, England, and Korea, especially Sookmyung Women’s University, are encouraging the use of MOOC and utilizing them for educational means. Therefore, SMT reporters visited the U.S.A, where it is currently been promoted, to learn how it is being incorporated into education there.
MOOC in the World, and at Sookmyung
With advances in technology, students can learn and acquire knowledge whenever and wherever possible. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses; in other words, the courses are cross participatory educational learning opportunities provided on the Web. Also, the Sookmyung Times featured an article on MOOC in a previous 314 issue. There are several advantages that MOOC offers such as the opportunity to learn from global renowned scholars without having to pay tuition fees or the need to have prerequisites beforehand. Moreover, all lecture enrollees are free to share their opinions and can receive feedback. Due to the advantages, a number of universities in Korea: Seoul National University, Yonsei University, Hanyang University, and Kyunghee University are making active use of the MOOC. Similarly, Sookmyung Women’s University has also stepped on board and introduced MOOC for the students. In particular, Professor Kim Hyungyul at the Korea Center for Digital Humanities at Sookmyung makes lively use of MOOC. Three SMT reporters visited Santa Clara University, a university famous for its use of MOOC, to learn more about how the university is making use of it and how students feel about its usage in order to make a comparison with Sookmyung.
MOOC: Korea V.S the U.S.A.
Before departing for the U.S.A, SMT reporters decided to interview two specific professors. The first was Kim Hyungyul, a professor in the Department of History & Culture at Sookmyung Women’s University. He is the first professor to operate a global MOOC platform in Korea. Reporters after investigative research decided to contact with Keith Yocam, a professor in the Department of Education at Santa Clara University. He designs and maintains MOOC at his university. Thankfully, they both welcomed SMT reporters, so the reporters were able to comfortably set up an interview with them in Korea and the U.S.A respectively.
During the interview, reporters found several similarities and differences between Sookmyung Women’s University and Santa Clara University regarding MOOC such as the production method, student participation rate, and the promotion methods. In terms of production, Sookmyung Women’s University utilizes various course assessment methods such as quizzes, presentations, and Facebook discussions. There are also times when students are given the chance to spend time with the professor in charge or form study groups. Sookmyung also created its own MOOC homepage: www.kc4dh.com. On the other hand, the professor at Santa Clara University appears firsthand on the videos, explains the materials, gives lectures, and offers topics for discussion or presentations. Later, the videos are uploaded onto the university homepage www.canvas.net, where students are free to re-listen or view other universities’ lectures.
The most striking difference between the two universities is the student participation rate. When asked the question: “How many students are interested in MOOC?” Keith Yocam replied with “6000 students from all around the world and at least students from 65 countries are participating now.” Also, Santa Clara University has been offering six MOOCs related to business ethics for students since 2015. Regrettably, according to Professor Kim Hyungyul, there is currently low enrollment in MOOC despite the benefits. Only two MOOC were offered to students this semester, and sadly, only 17 students out of a possible enrollment of 30 registered for one course. Kim believes the low enrollment is due to poor course promotion. He also said, “I hope that many of students use MOOC which have good quality through active promotion.” According to Keith Yocam, Santa Clara University actively advertises on its website and uses the learning management system to market the course and attract students.
The Future of MOOC at Sookmyung
MOOC at Santa Clara University is up and running actively. Many students willingly enroll in those courses. Also, MOOC has brought about many changes to the teaching and learning environment in terms of the diversification of education. At Sookmyung Women’s University this semester there is only one MOOC course. To vitalize MOOC enrollment, just as Professor Keith Yocam said, Sookmyung needs to actively promote the courses to students. Santa Clara University also uses its Learning Management System as well as Facebook and Twitter to market the courses. In terms of student familiarity, it would be great to add MOOC to students’ liberal arts education requirements. Exact and correct information about MOOC needs to be provided to students and exchange students at Sookmyung should be encouraged to register for MOOC lectures. Through these measures, K-MOOC would become well established here at Sookmyung Women’s University.
<*Special Thanks to professor Kim Hyungyul and Keith Yocam>