One Professor’s Approach to Online Learning: He’s Learning Too

BY Spencer Michels  January 8, 2013 at 10:58 AM EDT



Online learning at the university level comes in a variety of flavors. The hottest one right now is the MOOC, or massive open online courses, that are primarily given for free and do not, for the most part, carry transferrable college credit. Several million students are taking MOOCs, as we report in a story for the PBS NewsHour Tuesday.

But classes online have been around for a long time. The for-profit University of Phoenix has been giving them since 1989. Companies often use online classes to train their employees and universities often have online components, or entire classes online, that do carry credit.

Dan Garcia, a senior lecturer, teaches computer science at the University of California at Berkeley, and takes part in the UC Online Instruction Pilot Project. Students from Berkeley, UCLA and UC Davis get credit for Garcia’s introductory computer course for non majors, whether taken in the classroom, or online. And they pay for it, unlike with most MOOCs.

He says teaching online has helped him reach students in the classroom. New techniques that keep online students interested apply as well to students taking the course in person.

I talked with Garcia about his methods, in a lecture hall at Berkeley.