Kaler talks MOOCs, year-round calendar and State of the U

Pick up Wednesday’s Daily for the full interview

by Alexi Gusso

The Minnesota Daily sat down with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler on Tuesday to discuss recent happenings at the University.

Kaler touched on new eLearning initiatives, criticism and support at the state Capitol and Thursday’s State of the University address. 

Last week, the University announced it would partner with Coursera to make its own massive open online courses. Will these courses be available for credit in the future?

Right now we’re not offering them for credit. You can ask the provost about some details but I believe she has some conversations going about making them part of existing courses which would let you get credit. But again, the structure now is that these are free and we’re not giving credit.

It’s a very rapidly evolving landscape. MOOCs are the talk of higher education right now and we’ll see how they evolve. 

At the last Board of Regents meeting, you announced the piloting of a year-round calendar in two College of Design programs. Do you expect more programs to follow suit?

I think our first step is in the College of Design. I’m a scientist and scientists like to do experiments and so this is an experiment to see how we can deliver these courses, how much student demand there is, how effective and efficient the idea is. I think that if this is successful, we’ll see other programs move in that direction, but it needs to make sense for the program and make sense for the students. 

At last year’s State of the University address, you unveiled the University’s plan to look at a year-round calendar. What initiatives are you introducing at this year’s?

There will be several things that your readers will be interested in. I’m not going to preview those for you right now, but we’ll be talking about things relevant to undergraduate education and to our research mission and to our extension and outreach mission. So I think there will be some ideas there that people will find interesting.


Check out Wednesday’s issue of the Minnesota Daily to find out Kaler’s thoughts about the Legislative session, turnout at Support the U Day and alcohol at Mariucci and Williams Arenas.