Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Enrollment for UIS' first free Massive Open Online Course tops 2,000 from around the world

The University of Illinois Springfield Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) is launching a revolutionary and free online course, which is open to anyone who wants to learn.

The course is known as a “MOOC” (pronounced MOO-k) or Massive Open Online Course and will focus on the topic of “Online Learning Today...and Tomorrow”. The class is scheduled to begin on June 27 and runs through August 19. All of the content can be found online at The “MOOC” will have some scheduled events, such as live Webinars, but those will be recorded for later viewing.

“One can start anywhere in the course, take only some sections that are of interest and skip others. It is not graded,” said Ray Schroeder, director of COLRS.

No academic or continuing education credit will be awarded as part of the course, but faculty members at any level may choose to use the free, online materials as part of their coursework. Materials will remain online for use after the class.

“As a national leader in the field, UIS is invested in the development of online resources to advance the quality of online teaching and learning in higher education as a whole,” said Schroeder. “The open online learning resources movement is gaining traction around the world. In order to contribute to that cause and to examine the viability of the emerging ‘MOOC’ approach to learning, we are launching this experiment.”

UIS has invited a “who’s who” of experts from the online learning world to take part in the online discussion and lead sessions. Many of the speakers taking part in the “MOOC” are common keynoter speakers at national and regional conferences. COLRS will document the development and deployment of the “MOOC” and will conduct an assessment later this year. The instructors hope to learn more about Massive Open Online Courses through the experiment.

The first “MOOC” was developed by George Siemens of Athabasca University (who is joining one of the panels in the UIS “MOOC”) and Stephen Downes of the National Research Council of Canada in 2008. A number of other “MOOCs” have taken place since that time. This is the first attempt Schroeder is aware of that addresses a broad range of aspects of online learning and the future of online learning in higher education.

Schroeder said over 2,000 students have already signed up for the “MOOC” with participants from almost 50 countries, including The Philippines, Wales, The Netherlands, and Ireland. Students from Illinois and all over the United States have also registered for the class.

For more information and to sign-up, visit You may also contact the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service by email at or call 217/206- 7317.

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