Katie Boruff | June 9, 2018
Gabriel Said Reynolds greets his students on the final day of his Introduction to the Quran course. He is in a small classroom on Notre Dame’s campus.
His students are in Orlando, Colorado, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and beyond.
Such arrangements are not uncommon in the world of massive open online courses (MOOCs), but this one is different. It breaks new ground in the online learning space by bringing students participating in the MOOC around the world together with undergraduate and graduate students that Reynolds teaches in a traditional course at Notre Dame.
Partnering with Notre Dame’s Office of Digital Learning and hosted on the popular MOOC website EdX, Reynolds’ nine-week course covered the structure, themes, and context of the Quran, as well as how it relates to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.
Simultaneously teaching 10,000 MOOC students and two dozen Notre Dame students offered tremendous opportunity to further push the boundaries of learning, Reynolds said.
“The vocation of a teacher is to share as much as possible what he or she has discovered of the truth — and for that there are no boundaries, there are no frontiers,” said Reynolds, a professor in the Department of Theology. “One is called not simply to do one’s contractual obligations in the context of a job but to look for other opportunities for spreading wisdom and knowledge. It’s personally fulfilling to engage with learners in a different context and from different backgrounds.”
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