Wednesday, November 14, 2012

UIS part of national study exploring credit-worthiness for massive open online courses

The University of Illinois Springfield is part of a nationwide study that will examine the academic potential of massive open online courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are free online courses offered to very large numbers of students, mostly not for college credit.

The research is being coordinated by the American Council on Education (ACE) with financial support provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Among the questions ACE will address in research undertaken in collaboration with the University of Illinois Springfield's Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service (COLRS) are to what extent do MOOCs reach low-income young adult and older adult learners, what is the level of satisfaction of students enrolled in MOOCs, and do MOOCs have the potential to help lead to degrees or certificates. COLRS researchers will also explore types of MOOC teaching practices. This work will be performed using data from several MOOC platforms, including Coursera.

“MOOCs have the potential to make a huge difference in providing access to learning worldwide, so it is very important that we identify the best practices and approaches in effectively teaching students enrolled in this new way,” said research coordinator Ray Schroeder, UIS associate vice chancellor for online learning.

Dean Emeritus Bill Bloemer, an expert in learning analytics, and Distinguished Professor Karen Swan, a national expert on online teaching and learning effectiveness will head up the research initiative.

Also as part of the research, a pilot project with a small number of colleges and universities will be established to determine whether or not MOOCs are successful in re-engaging adult learners.

MOOCs are free online courses. Students worldwide can take part according to their own schedule and skip sections that are not of interest. Currently no academic or continuing education credit is awarded for MOOCs offered at UIS.

In the summer of 2011, UIS offered a MOOC on education that drew some 2,700 participants from 70 different countries, which studied the present and future of online learning. Another MOOC exploring the Emancipation Proclamation is being planned for early next year. The course will be offered starting on January 28, 2013. For more information, visit https://uis.coursesites.com/. Currently, no academic or continuing education credit is awarded for MOOCs offered at UIS.

For more information on the massive open online course research, contact Ray Schroeder at 217/206-7531 or rschr1@uis.edu.

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