Theatre "MOOCS" That You Can Take Right Now

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Brittany Strelluf

No matter where we are in our career or our artistry, there is always something we can learn about theatre.  This article will explore a relatively new concept in the education world, the MOOC.

First, what the actual heck is a MOOC? A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. The title is pretty self-descriptive, but I will attempt to elaborate and make a little more sense of it.  A MOOC is an online course with unlimited participation and open access offered over the internet. 

These online courses are an incredible resource. There could be- and should be -more theatre based massive classes made available.  MOOCS make education much more widely accessible and available. For this article, we will be focusing exclusively on theatrical art classes. There are many more music and film-based classes available in addition to these stage classes.

Theatre and Globalization 

The first class on the list is called Theatre and Globalization. This course is offered through the Coursera platform. This is a very pleasant and relevant class. Although Coursera is a fantastic platform that offers hundreds of classes, there are not a whole lot in the field of theatre.   Theatre and Globalization was created by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. There are no prerequisites for this class and it is an excellent choice for both the beginner and advanced theatre student. Students who enroll in this class will learn “how theatre and globalization have affected each other over the past century, and how to conduct your own research on global theatre histories.” This is s good first class for those with a little bit of a background in theatre but are new to the MOOC. The writing research project for this class is very fun, easy, and interesting.

Introduction to Who Wrote Shakespeare

Introduction to Who Wrote Shakespeare is a newer class offered via the Coursera platform. This class is presented by the University of London and Goldsmith and the University of London.  This class is about understanding the standing argument of whether William Shakespeare wrote all his work or it was a collaborative effort. This course “explores critical thinking, and the interpretation of texts, through the Shakespeare authorship question.” This would be a really helpful resource for theatre and literature students.

Shakespeare Matters

Shakespeare’s life and works seem to be the most popular subject of theatre MOOCs.  In this class, students will learn about Shakespeare’s plays and their influence through their focus on emotions such as love, hate, and jealousy. This class is 5 weeks long and students study for about 2-3 hours a week on it. Like many Coursera classes, students can pay for a verified certificate for $50.00. Shakespeare Matters is offered through the EdX platform in cooperation with the University of Adelaide.  This class is archived, but learners can still access the lectures, syllabus and other course materials.

Shakespeare and His World   

This class has hands down been my favorite theatre MOOC. If I’m being honest,  Shakespeare and His World is one of the most enjoyable, memorable, and interesting classes I’ve ever taken. It’s fascinating for a history geek like myself.  This course is run by the University of Warrick in conjunction with the British Council. These two institutions combine their considerable resources that make for an amazing learning experience. The course is run by Professor Jonathan Bate. Professor Bate presents objects representing Shakespeare’s life and relates them back to his work. It is a fantastic way to make the class memorable and humanizing.  This is one of the longer MOOCS, as it is ten weeks long.  Futurelearn has more theatre classes than some other platforms and is always adding more.

So, will a theatre MOOC change your entire life? Probably not. Can it be a more useful use of your time to watch a few minutes of an educational lecture, or read a bit about your craft than scrolling and looking at memes? Perhaps so. Happy learning!