FX, Instructure and UC Irvine Offer MOOC
on Biological and Cyber Hacks
Based on “The Strain”
Free online college course will teach about parasites, cyber attacks and disease dynamics through the lens of the FX original series, “The Strain,” from Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse, based on the New York Times best-selling novels “The Strain Trilogy,” by del Toro and Chuck Hogan
LOS ANGELES — May 13, 2015 — FX, Instructure and the University of California, Irvine today announced the joint production of a massive open online course (MOOC) exploring a broad range of scholarly topics through the lens of the biological parasite and cyber virus themes presented in the FX original series, “The Strain” from Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse. The course will be offered for free leading into this summer's Season 2 premiere of “The Strain.”
“Beyond putting a unique twist on the vampire legend, ‘The Strain’ creates an opportunity for serious academic discussions about some of today's most important public topics,” said Kenya Hardaway, vice president of Integrated Promotions at FX Networks. “As society becomes more globally and technologically interconnected, the impact of biological parasites and computer hacks will only become more pronounced. This course will leverage the popularity of ‘The Strain’ to help fans and the general public alike better understand these complex issues.”
The three-week course, titled “Fight or Die: The Science Behind FX’s ‘The Strain,’” will be offered on Instructure’s MOOC platform, Canvas Network, and will be taught by a multidisciplinary team of UC Irvine faculty: Pavan Kadandale, molecular biology and biochemistry; Hadar Ziv, information and computer science; and Sarah Eichhorn, physical sciences. These faculty will lead course modules designed to provide a practical and theoretical understanding of parasites, cyber attacks and disease dynamics—all of which have become mainstream topics due to recent news events ranging from the measles outbreak in Disneyland to large-scale cyber attacks impacting customers of major brands like Sony.
Enrollment in the course is currently available for free to anyone in the world via www.canvas.net/strainmooc. The first course module will begin three weeks before the Season 2 premiere, with subsequent courses opening each Monday for the next four weeks.
“We believe MOOCs have the power to help the education industry gain insight into how people learn,” said Melissa Loble, vice president of Partners and Programs at Instructure. “This course with FX and UC Irvine is exciting as it gives a broad audience, including fans of the series, a great opportunity to engage in the key themes and narratives of the show within an enriching academic setting. Participants will even be asked to develop projects that include the creation of original content, so they can apply the concepts they investigate in the course and share this application socially.”
UC Irvine has a history of involvement in enabling open education and developing innovative pedagogy. UCI’s OpenCourseWare site (ocw.uci.edu) provides free educational content in over 100 subject areas to over 2 million users per year, with over 15 million minutes of classroom lectures viewed on its YouTube channel. This new partnership with FX and Canvas Network follows similar initiatives from UC Irvine and Instructure to expand the MOOC experiment by combining pop culture and serious academic concepts in an effort to increase student engagement.
“This course will provide both teachers and students a unique opportunity to examine academic principles in a non-traditional setting,” said Eichhorn. “It’s not every day we get to structure a course against the backdrop of a rapidly spreading disease epidemic and devastating cyber attack. Using clips from ‘The Strain,’ our course will let students take a closer look at the science behind the popular TV series, all while discussing real-world examples of parasites changing host behavior, hackers taking down communication networks and diseases rampaging through populations.”
The course will leverage key themes, anecdotes and multimedia from “The Strain,” which ranked as the most-watched new cable drama of 2014.
Since its launch in 2013, Canvas Network has offered more than 400 open, online courses designed and delivered by more than 175 educational institutions and organizations throughout the world. Canvas Network is developed and supported by Instructure, providing a place and platform where teachers, students and institutions worldwide can connect and chart their own course for personal growth, professional development and academic inquiry.
To keep learning and to enroll for free in the course, visit Canvas.net/strainmooc.
FX is the flagship general entertainment basic cable channel of FX Networks, a business unit of 21ST Century Fox. FX Networks is comprised of FX, FXM and FXX. Launched in June of 1994, FX is carried in 95 million homes. The diverse schedule features a growing roster of critically-acclaimed and award-winning hit dramas series, including The Americans, Tyrant, The Strain and the upcoming Taboo; the critically-acclaimed miniseries American Horror Story, Fargo and the upcoming miniseries American Crime Story; acclaimed hit comedy series including the award-winning Louie, Archer, Married, The Comedians and the upcoming Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll and Baskets. FX is the former home of the critically-acclaimed and award winning hit drama series The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, Damages, Sons of Anarchy and Justified. The network’s library of acquired box-office hit movies is unmatched by any ad-supported television network. FX’s roster of acquired hit series includes Two and a Half Men, In Living Color and Mike & Molly.
Instructure, Inc. is the software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology company that makes smart software that makes people smarter. Its cloud-based Canvas learning management system (LMS) now connects more than 18 million teachers and learners at over 1,200 higher ed and K-12 institutions throughout the world. Because learning doesn’t end after graduation, Instructure also offers Bridge, the modern learning and engagement platform that enables organizations of every kind to engage with employees by measuring and improving employee sentiment, alignment and knowledge in real time. Learn more about Canvas at www.instructure.com
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.
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