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UC Irvine MOOC To Feed Braaaiiins with Zombies

The University of California, Irvine will launch a massive open online course (MOOC) based on AMC's popular zombie drama "The Walking Dead."

Dubbed "Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC's 'The Walking Dead'" and offered through Instructure's Canvas Network MOOC platform, the free eight-week course will use the show "to teach concepts from scholarly fields such as social science, public health, mathematics, and physics," according to a news release.

The course will be taught by UC Irvine faculty chosen for their experience with MOOCs, prior use of pop culture in the classroom, and curricular alignment with case studies from the show. Instructors and their specialties include:

  • Zuzana Bic, public health;
  • Joanne Christopherson, social sciences;
  • Michael Dennin, physics; and
  • Sarah Eichhorn, mathematics.

"As an educator, I'm always looking for ways to make scholarly ideas come alive for my students," said Bic, who regularly employs pop culture analogies in her teaching on public health issues, in a prepared statement. "'The Walking Dead' provides many poignant case studies related to the scholarly areas covered in the course, and it helps that it's one of TV's most popular shows. There will be something for everyone in this course, which will explore concepts as varied as post-disaster nutrition, the foundations of human survival, and stereotypes in a Darwinian environment."

The course will launch October 14, the day after the first episode of the show's fourth season premieres and will run on consecutive Mondays through December 2. "Because the series will air at different times around the world, Canvas Network will put in place provisions to help international participants avoid spoilers," according to a news release.

"Fans of the show know that 'The Walking Dead' is about more than zombies; it's about survival, leadership and adapting to situations that are perilous and uncertain," said Theresa Beyer, vice president of promotions and activation at AMC, in a prepared statement. "AMC is excited to be the first entertainment group to make the foray into the online education arena through this unique partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and Instructure."

Enrollment for the free course is open to anyone. Visit canvas.net to sign up.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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