Making Learning Fun, Zombie Style

If you missed out on being selected for the Hyperlinked Library MOOC with Michael Stephens, here’s an alternative. At first I thought this was a joke–a MOOC about zombies. But it’s real and even has course objectives listed! If you look at the objectives you’ll see that this class is not about zombies at all. They are teaching real stuff about public health, survival, and disease. Who in their right mind would take a course billed as: Infectious Disease and Public Health. Not many. However thousands are registering for this class based on the title and premise–you can make learning about infections diseases fun.

Is there a way you can apply this idea to your training? Absolutely! There are great films with good and bad examples of customer service. Clerks is the first that comes to mind. When we put ourselves in the role as the learner and think about how we would like to experience learning, we can find ways to make learning engaging and fun. No doubt this course will boost the ratings of The Walking Dead, but it’s a great example of adding a creative twist to what could be a boring subject. Let me know if you enroll. I’d love to have a trainers discussion group to talk about what we learn from the actual class as a trainer.

Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead

Course description

From understanding social identities to modeling the spread of disease, this eight-week course will span key science and survival themes using AMC’s The Walking Dead as its basis. Four faculty members from the University of California, Irvine will take you on an inter-disciplinary academic journey deep into the world of AMC’s The Walking Dead, exploring the following topics:

  •  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—is survival just about being alive?
  • Social order and structures—from the farm and the prison to Woodbury
  • Social identity, roles, and stereotyping—as shown through leaders like Rick and the Governor
  • The role of public health in society—from the CDC to local community organizations
  • The spread of infectious disease and population modeling—swarm!
  • The role of energy and momentum in damage control—how can you best protect yourself?
  • Nutrition in a post-apocalyptic world—are squirrels really good for you?
  • Managing stress in disaster situations—what’s the long-term effect of always sleeping with one eye open?

Each week we’ll watch engaging lectures, listen to expert interviews, watch exclusive interviews with cast members talking about their characters, use key scenes from the show to illustrate course learning, read interesting articles, review academic resources, participate in large and small group discussions, and—of course—test our learning with quizzes. We recommend that you plan on spending about two (2) to four (4) hours per week on this course, though we believe the course is compelling enough you’ll want to spend more time.

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe how infectious diseases—like a zombie epidemic—spread and are managed
  • Apply various models of society and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to existing and emerging societies as a means for understanding human behavior
  • Analyze existing social roles and stereotypes as they exist today and in an emerging world
  • Debate the role of public health organizations in society
  • Describe how mathematical equations for population dynamics can be used to study disease spread and interventions
  • Apply concepts of energy and momentum appropriately when analyzing collisions and other activities that either inflict or prevent damage
  • Summarize multiple methods for managing stress in disaster situations

To register go to: https://www.canvas.net/courses/the-walking-dead

The Hyperlinked Library MOOC

If you haven’t heard about MOOCs yet, take a few moments to read or listen to this story on NPR, How MOOCs are Changing Higher Ed, and read the MOOC entry on Wikipedia.

This fall we’ll see one of the first library science MOOCs offered by San Jose State University assistant professor Michael Stephens and lecturer Kyle Jones. From the SLIS site:

The Hyperlinked Library MOOC will examine various participatory theories of library service, the impact of emerging technologies on libraries, and the growing focus on a creation/curation culture. Students will explore the definition of participatory service, some key trends that impact the Hyperlinked Library model, and examine what the shift means for libraries and information work in today’s digital information age.

Having seen Stephens present this topic several times, I’m excited to see a full course developed around his innovative ideas that is open to a broad audience (you don’t need an MLS to apply). I’ve heard the excitement library staff have after hearing Stephens give a keynote, and this course will offer an opportunity for learners to go deeper and and apply some of the ideas presented back in their own libraries.

I was surprised to see the course limited to 200 since MOOCs usually have 10 or 20 times that number, but it’s probably a smart idea to ensure that everyone has a good experience. After all can you imagine a discussion board with 20,000 librarians? The ALA Think Tank has just over 3,000 and I can’t keep up!

There’s no indication on how many people have registered so far for the course, but you can sign up here to receive more information.