Free online learning with Yale experts now offered ‘on demand’

Yale’s latest round of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will provide learners across the globe instruction on legal concepts, negotiation strategies, and the details of 2008 financial crisis.
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Professor Ian Ayres, whose "A Law Student's Toolkit" is one of the Yale MOOC courses on Coursera's "on demand" cohort-based platform, says the MOOCs are "a public service to the world" and "an excellent way to let people know about our core business of teaching."

Yale’s latest round of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will provide learners across the globe instruction on legal concepts, negotiation strategies, and the details of 2008 financial crisis.

These courses are the first Yale has offered on Coursera’s new “on-demand,” cohort-based platform. The platform responds to two requests Coursera received from global learners. Learners wanted course material to be much more accessible, but they also wanted their learning process to retain some structure. The cohort-based platform creates a new course session every three weeks, complete with automatically generated (soft) deadlines and fresh discussion forums. The hope is that this will allow cohort-based courses to maintain the robust student-to-student interaction of a session-based course, while drastically reducing the time a learner has to wait before accessing course material.  

The new slate of courses includes “Introduction to Negotiation” with Barry Nalebuff, the Milton Steinbach Professor of Management at the Yale School of Management; “A Law Student’s Toolkit” with Ian Ayres, the William K. Townsend Professor of Law; and “The Global Financial Crisis” with Andrew Metrick, the Michael H. Jordan Professor of Finance and Management and deputy dean of the Yale School of Management (SOM); and Timothy Geithner, former U.S. treasury secretary and lecturer on management at SOM.

“It’s a public service to the world,” says Ayres of the online courses. “Yale is a great provider of knowledge and the fact that we’re putting ourselves forward online is an excellent way to let people know about our core business of teaching.”

Yale’s free MOOCs attract tens of thousands of visitors globally each year, providing access to educational materials that some may not otherwise receive due to geography, age, or opportunity.

Yale’s foray into online education began with Open Yale Courses in 2007. Since Yale launched its first set of MOOCs in 2014, faculty from various disciplines have become interested in teaching MOOCs through Coursera. The Yale Center for Teaching and Learning has a variety of courses in the pipeline from the Schools of Music, Medicine, Architecture, and Public Health, as well as the Divinity School.

Nalebuff’s negotiation course, which launched in August, has attracted more than 10,000 enrolled learners, according to the Yale Office of Digital Dissemination and Online Education.

Ayres’s and Metrick’s courses launched this past week.

“The Global Financial Crisis”

“The Global Financial Crisis,” based on a well-received class that Metrick and Geithner taught on campus during the 2014 fall semester, consists of 13 one-hour modules, which are like chapters in a digital textbook: 10 by Metrick and 3 by Geithner, who became U.S. treasury secretary during the peak of the financial crisis.

Geithner’s lectures deal with the buildups of financial crises historically, the government’s reaction to the 2008 crisis, the aftermath, and potential ways to prevent future crises. Metrick says his lectures complete Geithner’s narrative, by providing perspectives on the circumstances in Europe during the crisis.

 “The lectures compliment each other into one consistent whole,” he says.

Metrick says the 13 sets of lectures will be incorporated into an on-campus course for Yale students. Outside of the classroom, the students will watch the lectures, take the quizzes that follow, and post questions about the lectures in a community forum. Class time will be devoted instead to answering the students’ question, along with projects like simulations and case studies. 

“A Law Student’s Toolkit”

“A Law Student’s Toolkit” will teach learners about 30 core legal, historical, and philosophical concepts that first-year law students should understand before they start classes.

“Over the last several years, it has occurred to me that there are a bunch of concepts that could be learned even before you start law school,” says Ayres. “These are concepts that are raised in class after class and can really give you a leg up in studying law. I call this a tool kit because these are concepts that can be deployed in making arguments and analyzing the law.”

One of the course’s lectures explains the difference between rules and standards. (For example, a mandate to drive at a safe speed is a standard; a 40 mph speed limit is a rule.) Another counsels learners to consider whether a judicial opinion was issued during a time of financial or military crisis, as those factors might have influenced the decision.

Ayres says the lectures will be posted individually to YouTube and indexed into Google and other search engines so that anyone can consult a specific video.

On average, 67% of the students in Yale MOOCs hail from outside of the United States; the majority of them come from nations with large and developing economies like India, China, and Brazil. 

While participants do not earn Yale credit for MOOCs, sponsoring faculty members offer a Course Certificate for learners who complete and pass the course with a qualifying score and pay a $49 fee. Students who choose that option can share these certificates with prospective employers and others.

To learn more about these and other courses visit Yale’s homepage on Coursera.

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