Beginning this week, people from anywhere — be it Alaska or Argentina, Madagascar or Maine — will be able to register free of charge for the university’s first massive open online course, otherwise known as a MOOC.
The course, which begins April 1 and runs 10 weeks, will teach students the essentials of computer programming using the Visual Basic for Applications language in Microsoft Excel, says mechanical engineering Assistant Professor Paul Nissenson, who teaches a similar class for Cal Poly Pomona students.
“It will be a course that will help people get more out of Microsoft Excel,” Nissenson says. “They’ll be learning how to be a computer programmer at the same time.”
“They won’t need to have any knowledge of programming before the taking the course,” he says. “I’m going to assume they don’t know any programming.”
The class will be available entirely online. Students will watch pre-recorded video lectures and submit weekly quizzes and homework through the course website. Nissenson estimates that students who have little or no experience with programming will have to devote about 10 hours a week to the class.
Nissenson has never taught a MOOC before, but he has a deep fascination with online learning, and has already been recording video tutorials for the brick-and-mortar classes he teaches.
“It was just something I was interested in,” he says. “This is going to be a giant learning experience.”
The class will not be worth any university credits, but those who pass will receive a certificate of completion from Cal Poly Pomona, and Nissenson said the knowledge students gain will be valuable in the workplace. Once a person learns their first programming language and the logic of programming, it’s a breeze to learn others, he says.
“You’ll also be able to impress people by building programs,” he says. “Most people don’t know how to build programs.”
To register for Introduction to VBA/Excel Programming, visit csupomona.coursesites.com/.
(Photo: Paul Nissenson.)