New UW-Madison MOOCs focus on community engagement


The University of Wisconsin-Madison began a new round of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on January 26 with “The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold, and Conservation.” The free four-week course focuses on the connection between hunting and conservation, along with exploring the legacy of Wisconsin ecologist Aldo Leopold.

The Baraboo event for "The Land Ethic Reclaimed" will occur near ecologist Aldo Leopold's shack.
The Baraboo event for “The Land Ethic Reclaimed” will occur near ecologist Aldo Leopold’s legendary shack.

The Wisconsin State Journal makes note of the unique in-person events planned in conjunction with the MOOC. On February 21 and 22, for example, “From Hunt to Harvest” features a free weekend of hunting, food, and conservation activities in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
“The schedule focuses on hunting on Saturday and cooking/eating on Sunday,” writes George Hesselberg. “The Department of Natural Resources’ hunting and shooting sports assistant John Motoviloff, who is also the author of a new wild game cookbook, will steer the Sunday cooking classes.”
Motoviloff likes the idea of bringing together hunters and foodies at the event: “groups who have a lot in common but don’t always talk with each other very much.”

Wisconsin themes

The Badger Herald explains that the six new MOOCs will emphasize themes relevant to Wisconsin. Five of the six courses have an environmental focus, acknowledging the state’s historical role in the conservation movement.
Communications coordinator Lika Balenovich notes that UW-Madison sought to engage a statewide audience with this round of Massive Open Online Courses.
“We are trying to target our marketing and events to be specific to the state of Wisconsin and citizens of Wisconsin, alumni, people in the area,” she says.

Community discussions

The Lake Mills Leader explores the Wisconsin-oriented element of another new MOOC, “Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region,” which begins on February 23.
The course will invite people interested in climate change to attend discussions throughout Wisconsin, thanks to partnerships with 21 public libraries. In Lake Mills, the discussions occur at the L.D. Fargo Library on February 24, March 3, March 10, and March 17.

“The course is particularly unique in its focus on Wisconsin audiences, who will have the opportunity to learn more about how the mid-latitude location of the Great Lakes region and how the influence of five massive freshwater lakes combine to create exhilarating weather systems each season,” the Lake Mills Leader writes.

The alumni connection

The Chronicle of Higher Education mentions UW-Madison’s new MOOCs in an article about engaging alumni with free online courses.
The article quotes Balenovich, who says the courses offer “a new and convenient way to promote lifelong learning.”
To sign up for a UW-Madison MOOC or to learn more, contact Lika.Balenovich@wisc.edu, 608-890-2442.