UAlberta's next MOOC is here

New massive open online course explores what video games teach us about culture, gender, sex and violence.


(Edmonton) The University of Alberta will help to educate a worldwide audience about video games this fall when it launches its second massive open online course, or MOOC.

Understanding Video Games (UVG) will be available from the Faculty of Arts as an online course to existing U of A students as STS 351 and free to the public through the education platform Coursera.

The course will explore questions about what we can learn from video games, such as how they capture and hold our attention and what they tell us about society’s views on issues like gender, sex and violence. One of the main issues it will examine is the interplay between the designer, the player and the game itself.

UVG follows in the footsteps of Dino 101, the university’s inaugural MOOC that launched last year, attracting tens of thousands of learners from around the globe and marking the U of A as an emerging leader in top-quality digital learning.

Just as Dino 101 taps into the enduring public fascination with dinosaurs—and the U of A’s renowned expertise in paleontology—the new MOOC will appeal to people interested in the cultural phenomenon of video games.

“Video games are an increasingly pervasive part of our culture,” says arts professor Sean Gouglas, who is teaching the course along with computing science graduate student Leah Hackman. “We need to be thoughtful about and aware of the impact they have on our lives, and on what they reflect and reinforce about our conceptions of society.”

UVG will be taught through short instructional videos with pop-up quizzes, readings and an online forum for students to share their experiences with video games. U of A students will earn three credits for the course, giving them an alternative to the popular STS 350 in-class course that is part of the curriculum for the U of A’s Computer Game Development Certificate.

U of A students can register for STS 351 on Bear Tracks, and anyone can now register for Understanding Video Games on Coursera.

Watch a preview of UVG