CLAREMORE — Rogers State University plans to launch one of the state's first free, noncredit college courses later this year.
The university will launch a massive online open course, or MOOC, in sociology beginning in September. The course is based on a book by Frank Elwell, dean of Rogers State's School of Liberal Arts.
Elwell, who will teach the course, said the course will deal with sociocultural systems — “a fancy name for society,” he said. It will focus on the structure of societies, as well as the ideas and norms that make up cultures around the world.
The class amounts to “an online course on steroids,” Elwell said. It incorporates YouTube videos that illustrate the material covered in the course, he said.
Those videos will include a presentation by geneticist and National Geographic explorer Spencer Wells on the origins of human behavior and another video discussing German sociologist and philosopher Max Weber's 1904 book “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.”
Offering the course using the format allows Elwell to reach as many people as possible, he said, since students aren't bound either by location or ability to pay for the course. So far, he said, about 35 students have enrolled. Many appear to be from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, he said.
Because they don't come with course credit and don't require students to pay, online open courses have a notoriously bad rate of completion. But if a student only completes three or four of the 10 units in the class, they will still get a good idea of what sociology is, Elwell said.
The open format of the course also allows Rogers State to show what its professors do and what the university has to offer, Elwell said.
“It's a way of showing off our wares,” he said.
The course is the second of its kind to be launched by a public university in Oklahoma. Earlier this year, University of Oklahoma officials rolled out an online course in management. The OU course, called Introduction to Management, incorporates a graphic novel written by business professor Jeremy Short.
OU announced plans for that course after Short completed a study that showed that students retained information more effectively using a graphic novel rather than a traditional textbook.
The OU course is offered as a free, noncredit online class, but also includes a for-credit option for OU students paying standard tuition.
To enroll in the Rogers State course, go to www.coursesites.com/mooccatalog.