For some juniors and seniors at Union High School, their choice of electives will soon be seemingly endless.
The R-XI school board unanimously approved a program that will allow these students to take Massive Open Online Courses, or “MOOCs” for a half a credit next semester.
The class will be pass/fail and will not count toward the student’s overall grade point average.
MOOCs are offered by universities worldwide, including some of the most highly accredited U.S. institutions such as Harvard, Yale or MIT.
They cover just about any subject imaginable, from The Beatles to the Big Bang Theory, or foreign languages to physics.
Dr. Justin Tarte, director of curriculum and support services, said about 40 students are already in the required application process to take these courses next semester.
Students must go through an interview process with their guidance counselor and other officials to justify why they want to take MOOCs. Once approved for the program, students will be responsible for finding enough of them to fill an 18-week semester.
Each MOOC varies in content, requirements, prerequisites and length, Tarte said. Some will contain video lectures, some might have selected readings, and some courses provide quizzes periodically so students can test their understanding of the material.
At the end of each course, students must give some sort of presentation to prove their understanding of the course.
“It could be a video or a book report or some other kind of presentation,” Tarte said.
MOOCs, which are geared toward college students and working professionals, are much harder than traditional high school classes. With that in mind, Tarte said students who enroll in a MOOC and find it too difficult or uninteresting will be afforded the same class change policy as offered in traditional courses.
Tarte said he could only find three other high schools in the nation that were allowing students to take MOOCs for credit.