Steve Zylius / UC Irvine Communications UC Irvine faculty members, from left, Sarah Eichhorn, Michael Dennin, Joanne Christopherson and Zuzana Bic are teaching an online course related to the AMC show. Download image

AMC, Instructure and UCI to offer multidisciplinary MOOC based on ‘The Walking Dead’

Massive open online course will use AMC's hit TV series to teach concepts in social science, public health, mathematics and physics

New York, Salt Lake City, Irvine, Calif., Sept. 4, 2013 – AMC, Instructure and the UC Irvine today announced the joint production of a massive open online course exploring a broad range of scholarly topics through the lens of a hypothetical zombie apocalypse.

The eight-week MOOC, titled “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead,’” will be offered on Instructure’s MOOC platform, Canvas Network, and will be taught by a multidisciplinary team of UC Irvine faculty: Zuzana Bic, public health; Joanne Christopherson, social sciences; Michael Dennin, physics; and Sarah Eichhorn, mathematics. They were handpicked based on experience in teaching MOOCs, history of using pop culture in the classroom, and strong curricular alignment with case studies from the TV series.

“Fans of the show know that ‘The Walking Dead’ is about more than zombies; it’s about survival, leadership and adapting to situations that are perilous and uncertain,” said Theresa Beyer, vice president of promotions and activation at AMC. “AMC is excited to be the first entertainment group to make the foray into the online education arena through this unique partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and Instructure. There is clearly a growing appetite for engagement with ‘The Walking Dead,’ and we hope this online course will drive a deep, sustained connection with the show during its upcoming fourth season and offer a legitimate educational experience that can be applied even more broadly.”

Enrollment in the course is currently available to anyone in the world via www.canvas.net/TWD.

The first class is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 14, the day after the Season 4 premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” The course will run for eight consecutive Mondays through Dec. 2. Because the series will air at different times around the world, Canvas Network will put in place provisions to help international participants avoid spoilers.

While using pop culture references in the classroom is nothing new, this MOOC represents a unique level of experimentation in teaching and learning by formally infusing an academic syllabus with contemporary media. It’s also the first time a technology firm, entertainment company and major university have collaborated in this way.

UC Irvine, which is ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education, has been a leader in the MOOC movement and a pioneer in open education for more than a decade. This partnership reflects UC Irvine’s next step in utilizing popular culture and flexible technology to improve outcomes in the open, online learning environment.

“As an educator, I’m always looking for ways to make scholarly ideas come alive for my students,” said Bic, who regularly employs pop culture analogies in her teaching on public health issues. “‘The Walking Dead’ provides many poignant case studies related to the scholarly areas covered in the course, and it helps that it’s one of TV’s most popular shows. There will be something for everyone in this course, which will explore concepts as varied as post- disaster nutrition, the foundations of human survival and stereotypes in a Darwinian environment.”

“The Walking Dead” is the most-watched TV series in basic cable history and was the No. 1 show last season among adults 18 to 49, across all broadcast and cable networks.

In addition to including content from the TV series, the online course will allow professors to digitally insert guest lecturers to add depth and variety to the curriculum.

A recent study by Instructure and the private research software company Qualtrics reveals that students will complete MOOCs if they offer a compelling and engaging academic experience.

“The education industry continues to experiment with MOOCs and is yielding insights into how to economically educate on a global scale,” said Instructure CEO Josh Coates. “‘The Walking Dead’ MOOC by UC Irvine will explore new ways to teach serious multidisciplinary academic curriculum in a popular social context that is engaging.”

To enroll for free in the course, visit www.canvas.net/TWD.

About AMC: Whether commemorating favorite films from every genre and decade or creating acclaimed original programming, AMC brings to its audience something deeper, something richer, something more. The network reigns as the only cable network in history ever to win the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Drama Series four years in a row, and it boasts the most-watched drama series in basic cable history with “The Walking Dead.” AMC’s original drama series include “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead,” “The Killing” and “Hell on Wheels.” Its newest series, “Low Winter Sun,” premiered this summer. AMC also explores authentic worlds with bold characters through its slate of unscripted original series like “Comic Book Men,” “Small Town Security,” “Talking Dead” and “Freakshow.” AMC is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc., and its sister networks include IFC, Sundance Channel and WE tv. AMC is available across all platforms, including on-air, online, on demand and mobile. AMC: Something More.

About Instructure: Instructure is a technology company committed to improving education. We provide instructors and students with modern tools and resources that empower and simplify the learning experience. Instructure offers Canvas, the open, easy-to-use, cloud-native learning management system, as well as Canvas Network, an index of open, online courses by educators everywhere – from Ivy League institutions to community colleges.

About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving employment hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it’s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.

Copyright © 2013, Instructure, Inc. All rights reserved. Instructure, Canvas and their respective logos are registered trademarks or trademarks of Instructure, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Other brands and names may be claimed as the property of others.

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