10 popular MOOC instructors with brilliant Twitter accounts

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) may be a controversial topic in education right now, but everyone loves a good MOOC instructor. The rise of the MOOC has given fresh audiences to a new wave of education thought leaders and scholars who previously might not have received so much recognition. 

Naturally, many of those teaching massive open online courses also maintain active Twitter accounts, which provide yet another platform to share their thoughts, research and news in their field, as well as interact with students taking their courses. We've compiled a list, in no particular order, of 10 of the most prolific tweeters behind some of the most popular MOOCs. Each has a different approach to the platform that is sure to be informative, and might even liven up your feed.


On Twitter:
Followers: 55,300+

The James B. Duke Professor of Psychiology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, Dan Ariely taught the Coursera MOOC “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior.” He initially became interested in irrationality—why people fail to act in their own best interest—while recovering from an explosion that left him with third-degree burns on 70% of his body. He is the author of “Predictably Irrational,” “The Upside of Irrationality” and “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty.” Oh, and he delivered a commencement speech at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in May wearing a Jedi robe.



On Twitter:
Followers: 2,700+

Chuck Eesley is an assistant professor in Stanford’s Department of Management Science & Engineering with over a decade of experience in and around startups. Through Venture Lab, he teaches parts 1 and 2 of the MOOC “Technology Entrepreneurship.” He frequently communicates with followers and retweets students from his MOOCs who are looking for partners in their area.


On Twitter:
Followers: 1,900+

The Knight Chair of Digital Media Strategy at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Owen Youngman spent 37 years in new product development, innovation and interactive media at the Chicago Tribune. He was even involved in the development of the Tribune’s initial digital strategy in 1992. With a resume like that, it should come as no surprise that he was also tapped to teach one of Northwestern’s first six MOOCs offered through Coursera, “Understanding Media by Understanding Google.”


On Twitter:
Followers: 7,700+

One of the brains behind Coursera, Andrew Ng is also director of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. He was recently listed on Fortune’s “40 Under 40” (No. 38, to be exact), and his Twitter feed is populated by the latest Coursera developments and education news. Ng’s MOOC on machine learning will run for 10 weeks beginning Oct. 14.


On Twitter:
Followers: 17,900+

Between being a Udacity co-founder and CEO, a Stanford research professor, a Google Fellow, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a serial entrepreneur, it’s almost a wonder Sebastian Thrun finds time to breathe. The Google Glass creator and developer of the tech giant’s self-driving car is also an outspoken critic of many current, commonplace education practices, like “fear-based” testing regimes. He has written over 370 scientific papers and 11 books, and his MOOCs include “Introduction to Statistics,” “Artificial Intelligence for Robotics” and “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.”


On Twitter:
Followers: 3,500+

In August 2012, Jesse Stommel, Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities in the Division of Continuing Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison, got the education media’s attention with his MOOC about MOOCs. The “MOOC MOOC,” as it was called, was hosted by Stommel’s online education journal, Hybrid Pedagogy. MOOC MOOC even has its own spinoff account now.


On Twitter:
Followers: 42,500+

Alec Couros is a professor of education technology and media at Canada’s University of Regina. He is extremely active on Twitter, frequently interacting with followers, and teaches the university’s MOOC on “Social Media & Open Education.”


On Twitter:
Followers: 17,800+

An associate professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Kevin Werbach is a leading expert in his field. He is founder of technology analysis and consulting firm Supernova Group, co-led the review of the Federal Communications Commission for the Obama-Biden Transition Project and has appeared in media including CNN, NPR, USA Today, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. His “Gamification” MOOC for Coursera analyzes how digital game design techniques are being applied to problems like social impact and business challenges.


On Twitter:
Followers: 1,100+

Ball State University doctoral candidate Christina Blanch got attention this Spring for her Canvas MOOC, “Gender Through Comic Books.” The MOOC featured interviews with top names like Terry Moore, Brian K. Vaughan and Mark Waid, and focused on gender representations and constructions in the medium. At least one other comic book MOOC has since been offered through Coursera, but Blanch is an active tweeter who knows her stuff about pop culture. She also co-owns a shop, Alter-Ego Comics in Muncie, Ind.


On Twitter:
Followers: 14,800+

A professor and researcher at Canada’s Athabasca University, George Siemens’ involvement in the MOOC realm dates back to 2008, when he taught a learning theory course with Stephen Downes for the University of Manitoba. The course attracted over 2,300 students. Since then, he has become recognized as a MOOC thought leader and regularly blogs about open learning on his site, ELEARNSPACE. He tweets frequently on MOOCs, the changing face of higher ed and other topics.



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Filed Under: Higher Ed Technology Online Learning