On Monday, April 8, 2013, the MOOC Medical Neuroscience officially launched in Coursera. This intensive eight week course is taught by Professor Len E. White, who has received numerous teaching awards, has co-authored the textbook Neuroscience and the Sylvius digital atlas of the human brain, and teaches in the Duke University School of Medicine, the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. Dr. White says
It is a high honor to have a role in the education of people the world over who are as curious as I am about the structure and function of the human brain.
Medical Neuroscience is based on Dr. White’s on-campus course for first-year medical students, requiring a college-level background in cellular and molecular biology, systems physiology and human anatomy and a significant time commitment (16 or more hours each week). Each week includes about six hours of video tutorials. Students who wish to receive a certificate must do well on six quizzes, two exams, a peer assessment and participate in discussion forums.
The sense of community emerged almost instantly on the discussion forums; some participants joyously greeted Justin Johnsen, the online course associate for Medical Neuroscience, as they remembered him from his previous work on the first iterations of two other Duke Coursera courses, Introduction to Genetics and Evolution and for Introduction to Astronomy. He’s gained a following for his careful discussion forum posts and quick attention to technical issues. Other students are exchanging tips on using previous editions of the textbook, renewing acquaintances from previous courses, welcoming new people and offering supportive comments.
By the numbers (as of the afternoon of April 8th): Over 43,000 students are registered for this course, and so far 5,500 students have accessed the course. Over 3,800 students watched the introductory video about the instructor, and nearly 4,000 students took a preliminary quiz on their previous knowledge. There are over 1,400 posts in the discussion forum. The videos have been watched by 5,500 participants, for a total of 23,000 streaming views and 26,000 video downloads.