In the past week I completed the work for the first MOOC (Massive Open online Course) that I’ve ever taken. The course was Surveillance Law which I completed via Coursera. Let me start by saying that this course was fantastic. The presenter, Jonathan Mayer from Stanford did a great job delivering a series of short lectures that introduced and discussed US surveillance laws from technical and legal perspectives. The readings were great on that Mayer and the course team choose great materials but also advised participants when to read and when to skim. The lectures and materials covered topics and news that happened just weeks and months ago; so the overall course was tremendously relevant and informative.
The discussion forums in a MOOC can be pretty daunting. There were many, many people participating. I read a number of messages and threads that I felt were off topic and became less interested in participating there. I regret that now as I later learned that a number of regional, online (Google hangouts?), and over the phone study groups formed. I would have liked to participate in one of those. The constant “we’re screwed’, ‘the government is watching us’ attitudes expressed and off topic back and forth in some (many) of the discussions had turned me off. I realize now they turned me off too soon.
Among what I thought were the highlights of the course:
– How to Read a Legal Opinion, A Guide for New Law Students by Orin Kerr was a fantastic read. Thank you.
– Liberty and Security in a Changing World, Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. I had seen and read this document before but i reading it again in contect with the lectures i got so much more out of it.
– Jonathan’s great red t-shirt
– An archive of all of the course lectures appears on Youtube!
I would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in criminal justice or surveillance law. I’d also highly recommend Jonathan Mayer as a course instructor.