TCD online course on WWI has 10,000 students, most from abroad

22 Aug 2014

The 10th Irish Division in Basingstoke prior to dispatch in World War I. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Trinity College Dublin’s first massive open online course (MOOC) on the history of Ireland during World War I has had 10,000 people sign up, with more than half of those from abroad.

The use of MOOCs both in the established educational institutes and completely online universities has grown substantially in recent years, and TCD’s efforts have made it so anyone with internet access across desktops, tablets and smartphones can access the six-week course.

The course will look to explore the lives of men, women and children living through war and revolution, examining the political and social changes that shaped modern Ireland.

So far, of the 10,000 students, a considerable majority of them hail from both the UK and the US, largely from the vast Irish diaspora that have settled there.

The lecturers of the course hope to engage its participants with original sources – textual, visual and aural – and encounter contradictory viewpoints from participants, as well as learning about the contested nature of all history, and the challenges facing historians.

Beginning 1 September, the course has been orchestrated with the help of TCD academics, professor of early modern history and historiography, Ciaran Brady; assistant professor in modern history, Anne Dolan; and Dr Ciarán Wallace of the Centre for Contemporary Irish History.

TCD’s associate dean for online education, Prof Tim Savage, said online learning has the capacity to revolutionise how students learn, and to increase access to high-quality higher education.

“Trinity is at the forefront of innovation in Ireland, and we believe there is an opportunity for the university to leverage the disruptive potential of online learning, particularly in building our global reputation.

“The online environment will provide students with a stimulating learning experience by creating a structured, yet flexible, learning approach.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic