Penn’s Al Filreis Wins a Coursera Outstanding Educator Award

Jeanne Leong | jleong@pobox.upenn.edu | 215-573-8151
Thursday, March 31, 2016

Al Filreis, an English professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is the recipient of an inaugural Coursera Outstanding Educator Award.

Filreis was honored with the Transformation Award, given to an instructor who has contributed the most to the platform’s vision of enabling anyone, anywhere to transform their life through its massive open online courses, or MOOCs.

Filreis’ Modern and Contemporary American Poetry, known as ModPo, was among the first humanities courses on the Coursera platform.  The introduction to poetry class emphasizes experimental verse, from Dickinson and Whitman to the present.

“Al is one of Penn’s MOOC pioneers,” said Deirdre Woods, executive director of the Penn Online Learning Initiative. “His engaging teaching style led the way for other faculty to be able to successfully teach difficult material online to thousands of learners." 

Stanton Wortham, a Penn Graduate School of Education professor and faculty director of the Penn Online Learning Initiatives, accepted the award for Filreis on March 22 in The Netherlands at the annual Coursera Partners Conference. 

In a video played at the conference, Filreis said MOOCs will transform the old style of lectures in the classroom.

“Global collaboration yields better knowledge and understanding than the old lecture.  MOOCs, rather than reinforcing the mode of the lecture, will see the end of the lecture as we know it,” he said.

Filreis is also the director of Penn’s Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing and faculty director at Kelly Writers House.