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Exploring the reasons why UNH’s first ever massive open online course is perfect for our engaged student body

Longtime New Hampshire political journalist Kevin Landrigan of NH1 News reported on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s criticism of the state of New Hampshire last week when Reid told a Washington Post reporter, “I don’t mean to denigrate New Hampshire or Iowa, but they shouldn’t be the ones choosing who is going to be president.” The comment set off wide-spread debate about whether or not Reid’s statements were valid.

So it’s incredibly fitting that today marks the launch of UNH’s first ever massive open online course (MOOC) about the history and relevance of the New Hampshire primary entitled “FIRST!”

As The New Hampshire’s front-page article reports, 1,600 students have already enrolled in the course thus far, and for good reason.

The MOOC is extremely flexible and modern. According to the UNH website, the course will utilize video lectures, online discussions and interactive activities. Additionally, the course does not carry any credits and students will be able to complete assignments and participate in discussion forums at their convenience.

UNH political science professors Dante Scala and Andrew Smith will be teaching the MOOC, which is set to run until Dec. 1. If you happen to have some free time available, the course is definitely worth checking out.

Scala stated in the article that the course is designed to give the audience historical context to help them gain a more “discerning eye” when it comes to observing the next few months leading up to New Hampshire’s Feb. 9 primary.

However, the course also appears to explore the comments Reid made regarding the state’s status as first in the nation.

Smith stated, “We hope to debunk—but we won’t—the myth that New Hampshire voters are more informed than the average voter,” said Smith.  “They’re not.”

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan seems to disagree with Reid and Smith. Landrigan’s report has Hassan on record stating, “Senator Reid’s disparaging comments about New Hampshire are as insulting as they are wrong, and an apology would certainly be appropriate.”

Debates on that topic aside, one thing is for certain: UNH students are tremendously interested in the election.

When Democrat heavyweights Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders came to Durham followed shortly thereafter by Republican Ben Carson, a substantial number of students turned out for each candidate’s respective event. Moreover, the high volume of students already enrolled in this course serves as further evidence of students’ political interest and engagement.

As a staff, The New Hampshire commends the student body for its engagement in the 2016 primary election. We are confident that when the primary voting date comes, UNH students will have an impressive turnout at the polls. 

Regardless of whether or not you believe New Hampshire voters are more informed than voters in other states, the MOOC is yet another fantastic mechanism UNH students have at their disposal for garnering knowledge. This time, it comes in the form of a unique and incredibly technologically savvy platform that allows for large-scale discussion and learning from a couple of the country’s finest political science professors.

So sign up for the online course—which can be found by visiting the Department of Political Science’s section on the UNH website—and decide for yourself whether or not New Hampshire deserves to be first in the nation when it comes to primary voting.

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