Canvas Network :Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC's The Walking Dead by UC Irvine

A Massive Open Online Course on a TV Series was least expected and perhaps one of the more exciting things to happen in the world of online education. Being a follower of the TV Series, I decided to take the course hoping it would be as interesting as the TV series. I was pretty impressed with the U.C. Irvine instructor line-up, they had a social science lecturer Dr. Joanne Christopherson, a public health doctor Dr. Zuzana Bic, a mathematician Dr. Sarah Eichhorn and a physicist Dr. Michael Dennin - all plotting and planning to educate us to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Society Science Survival : Lessons from AMC's The Walking Dead

The course was stretched through 8 weeks with a module each week. They were based loosely on Social Sciences, Public Health, Physics and Mathematics. There was no final examination but the course had weekly quizzes to evaluate the learning progress of each student. The course had initially decided against a certificate but later gave one along with badges for each module at the end of the course.

Module 1 was based on the foundations of survival. From a Social Science perspective, it taught the Maslow's Law Of Hierarchy and how we can apply it to the Walking Dead survivors.

Module 2 dealt with the public health factors which could change the face of the zombie infested world. Dr. Zuzana Bic focussed on the different dimensions of health and the role the different health organizations has to play in preventing epidemics and contagious diseases.

Module 3 and 4 developed on the different kinds of societies which exist and categorised them into various scenarios on the basis on the type of power the people had in each one of them. It also talked about the different hideouts used and the form of authority that existed. The most important weeks of the course, they showed how Merle and Daryl were being stereotyped and the differences between the characters of Shane and Rick as leaders.

Module 5 uses basic math to build a model which showcases the rate at which zombies and humans will grow and thus influence factors to bring about total harmony or a total destruction. I wasn't very satisfied with this module as it assumes a lot of parameters which might later turn out to be a decisive one. However, as it is not a math course, I understand that the professor had to go over a very basic approach so that everyone understands.

Rick Grimes : The Walking Dead

Module 6 delves back into the public health and teaches us the consequence of malnutrition and how an able body can defend itself in the worst of conditions.

Module 7 deals with forces and momentums. This week was the  physics part of the zombie apocalypse where the lecturer talked about different materials and formulated simple problems to aid in the understanding of concepts. The module also talked about the best weapons which can be used and how ranged weapons have a slight supremacy over hand to hand combat as they don't let the attackers get close.

Module 8 is the last model and deals with the aspects of stress and how negative stress (distress) can lead to reduction in efficiency. It also points out some stress management techniques to counter the ill effects.

Other than lecture videos, each module had discussions, additional readings, cast interviews with the Walking Dead stars - Hershel (Scott Wilson), Sasha(Sonequa Martin) and Beth (Emily Kinney) and a part called Beyond The Zombies where the instructors discussed about a variety of topics affecting/leading to a zombie apocalypse.

While I won't say that the course is the most resourceful one, the blend of the TV series and MOOC is simply fascinating. U.C. Irvine professors and staff have done a wonderful job at drawing examples from the TV series to produce a fanatstic course.

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