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In this episode, we talk with Armando Fox, Professor of Computer Science and Faculty Advisor to the MOOCLab at UC Berkeley. With David Patterson, he co-designed and co-taught Berkeley’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on “Engineering Software as a Service,” offered through It is now a professional certificate in “Agile Development Using Ruby on Rails.” Our conversation touched many topics involving MOOCs. We discussed the history of MOOCs, how he got into it, creating Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs), how MOOCs call into question established teaching habits, some experiments he’s planning that break those habits, and how to get student buy-in when using a MOOC in the classroom. When asked about something awesome in computer science, Armando talked about his love for the history of computing. One thing he observed is how much ideas get recycled in computer science. He even has a web page called “Master geek theater” of his recommended documentaries ranging from five minutes to three hours. Armando’s Too Long; Didn’t Listen (TL; DL) focused on MOOCs’ long-term legacy. He does not think they will replace instructors. Instead, they will enable instructors to use their time more creatively because they have well-curated, interactive, battle-tested exercises available to them. Moreover, they will help us think about how to get the non-deep content experts involved in helping the students or their peers in learning the material.

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