CWRU’s first free online courses to begin May 1

Julia Bianco, Contributing Reporter

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Beginning May 1, Case Western Reserve University’s first free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) will be live at coursera.com. The courses, “Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence,” and “Introduction to International Criminal Law,” represent CWRU’s, as well as other universities’, move toward offering more online education options.

CWRU recently started offering an online master’s in social science administration from MSASS, and is in the process of developing an online certificate program for the engineering school.

CWRU Provost W.A. “Bud” Baeslack II said to The Daily, “These online academic offerings represent new ways for us to advance learning— not only for those who take the courses, but for those who teach them as well.”

During “Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence,” taught by professor Richard Boyatzis, students will learn how to use their positive emotions in order to improve their leadership skills and their relationships with others. The course examines the idea of resonance leadership, which involves developing the social and emotional abilities to lead effectively. Using neurological, behavioral, organizational, and psychological research, students will learn about how to apply the Positive Emotional Attractor to their lives in order to improve themselves as individuals, teams, organizations, and communities.

The course consists of nine classes spread out over six weeks, but will stay open for an additional two months to give students extra time to catch up on assignments. Each class consists of two to four modules, each of which contains a short video, a quiz, required readings, a personal reflection assignment, and questions for online discussion forums. Each week also has supplemental readings and an exam.

The course has two tracks: the core track, for most people, and the practicum track, which requires an additional three Action Learning Assignments that ask the students to apply their newly learned skills and write reflections.

A professor of organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management, and co-author of The New York Times best seller, “Primal Leadership,” professor Boyatzis is extremely qualified to teach this course.

“The democratizing effects of a free course, open to anyone with an Internet connection, is quite appealing for helping many people around the world who yearn for learning and development, but lack the means for access,” he said.

The other course, “Introduction to International Criminal Law,” taught by professor Michael Scharf, focuses on a different area of interest. The course will examine the legal aspects of international crimes like genocide, war crimes, terrorism, and piracy. It will also look at international criminal liability and the challenges of finding accused criminals.

Designed to meet each student’s personal schedule, the course is split into eight modules that can be taken in eight days or eight weeks. Each module consists of an online reading and simulation, followed by video clips and slides. A quiz and an ongoing online discussion forum also accompanies each module.

Working at CWRU as the associate dean for global studies at the School of Law, Scharf has spent his life travelling and learning about the intricacies of international law through personal experience.

Scharf was one of five people chosen to train the judges for the 2005 and 2006 trial of Saddam Hussein. He has helped prosecute Somali pirates, war criminals in the Ivory Coast and Libya, and the Khmer Rouge, who were involved in killing fields during the Vietnam era. Scharf is also managing director of the Public International Law and Policy Group, which was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

“The topics we will be discussing are literally ripped from the headlines,” Scharf said to Coursera. “The topics are often controversial and thought provoking, and always exciting.”

“Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence” has been averaging 1,000 new students per day, and currently has 49,140 enrollees, while “Introduction to International Criminal Law” has 14,000 people enrolled and is expected to top 20,000 by the start of the course.

The MOOCs are designed so that everyone from undergraduates to business professionals can participate. Upon completion of a course, the student receives a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

Boyatzis is eager to see the positive effect that offering these courses could have for CWRU. “This level of exposure should help build a broader image of CWRU and our faculty and stuff to prospective students… and donors,” he said.

“It is an investment of CWRU resources. Will it be worth it? Who knows,” he added. “But I know that the detailed design has opened up methods and techniques that I am now incorporating into all my regular degree courses, and am sharing the ideas with other faculty and staff.”