Fourth UW-Madison MOOC of 2015 explores big-picture energy questions

June 23, 2015

The debate over energy consumption and its consequences is constantly evolving, whether the subject is fossil fuels or renewables. UW-Madison's latest massive open online course (MOOC), "Energy and the Earth," will give thousands of people an online forum in which to explore these topics.

The course launched Sunday and runs through July 18; learners can sign up at any time.

MOOCs are free, noncredit learning experiences that allow people from around the globe to participate. Participants sign up online and watch educational videos, participate in discussion forums, read articles and often take quizzes or complete educational activities.

The fourth in UW-Madison's 2015 series of six MOOCs, "Energy and the Earth" is taught by Alan Carroll, UW-Madison professor of geoscience, faculty of the Nelson Institute and field geologist with more than 30 years combined experience in academia and the energy industry.

A number of guest experts from UW-Madison are contributing their voices to the course, including Michael Corradini, director of the Wisconsin Energy Institute, and Tina Nielsen, associate director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

The MOOC will explore the physical realities of energy supply and the challenges associated with different energy systems, from fossil fuels to solar to nuclear.

Participants will engage in course activities that help them understand their own energy use in context and the broader impact of their energy use in terms of greenhouse emissions. In this way, they will learn more about their personal "energy identity" based on their perceptions of their own energy use.

"Energy and the Earth" will remain open beyond July 18, though unmoderated, through 2015 as a free educational resource.

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