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Utah State gets feet wet in new world of free online courses

Herald Journal

By Kevin Opsahl

Utah State University professor and department head Larry Walther compares his decision to teaching a new online course this coming semester to that of an explorer.

Walther is only the second professor to teach a MOOC — massive open online course — at USU. These are courses that are offered online, the resources and content are all free, and students don’t receive a grade or any certification.

Oh, and they’re massive. Walther’s undergraduate MOOC in accounting at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business has already enrolled about 320 students hailing from places including Logan, Boston, Spain, Greece, China, and India.

“From a very broad perspective, education is the biggest business in this country, and technology offers the possibility of generating unequal efficiencies in terms of productivity gains for society,” Walther said. “To be part of the learning process ... it’s pretty hard not to want to experiment with that. I definitely see myself as an explorer, trying to discover what we can do better and more efficiently.”

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