In a global first-of-its kind, the university of Alberta’s new Mountains 101 course is taking the world’s greatest mountains to the masses, for free.
From trees to scree, glaciers to creatures, the University of Alberta’s new Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) is taking mountain learning to the masses. “It’s high-end, documentary-styled learning,” explains Mountains 101 instructor and co-creator Dr. David Hik. “But unlike a documentary, it’ll be highly interactive.” Notably, it also won’t cost anything, unless students want credit, in which case there will be normal tuition to pay.
Hik is a biologist and mountain-studies instructor who, since 2013, has been scripting the course’s 12 video chapters — roughly three months of material available to learn at a Netflix-like pace — along with University of Alberta alpine historian Zak Robinson, high-altitude physiologist Craig Steinbeck and glaciologist Martin Sharp.
With unlimited enrollment, Mountains 101 will drill deep into issues like mountain origins, climates, uses, cultures and preservation. The university has partnered with some of Canada’s heaviest hitters on the course: Parks Canada, MEC, the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, Alpine Club of Canada and Travel Alberta. And the university’s alpine academic goals don’t top out there. The school’s Canadian Mountain Studies Initiative, launched in 2011, already employs the brainpower of 30 researchers in six faculties, including agriculture, science and arts. Mountains 101 is expected to launch this fall.