UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

UNCG plans to pilot two MOOC offerings

Photo of Elliott University Center and downtown GreensboroMOOCs – massive open online courses – are a much-discussed new phenomenon in American higher education.

MOOCs have become an experiment for many universities across the country.

UNCG will dip its toes into the water later this semester.

“UNCG will pilot test two MOOCs,” notes Dr. Jim Eddy, interim dean of UNCG Division of Continual Learning. “These are not for credit.”

In general, MOOCs hold potential for online learning for a lot of people who may not have access to university courses. They can serve as a way for people who left college years ago to take an online course to see if completing a degree might be feasible for them.

Although millions of people have signed up for MOOCs, statistics show a majority of people who register for MOOCs don’t complete the course. And there is a cost to develop MOOCs with an uncertain return on investment.

Two MOOC courses will be offered in the pilot here at UNCG. Currently being developed by the UNCG Division of Continual Learning, they will be “Passion of the Western Mind” and “Web Design and Usability.” The former will be created by Dr. Stephen Ruzicka (History) and the latter by Dr. Anthony Chow (Library and Information Services.) The courses are envisioned as interactive, free-standing courses – they are being designed to not require an instructor. Each course will include branching tree learning objects, through which the student participates in a dialogue, presents alternative answers to a question, then must choose between responses in order to proceed. Each course will also include computer-assessed quizzes and student discussion forums. Eddy explains that universities have created a number of ways to facilitate online discussions and help students learn in MOOCs.

“We are trying to do two types of offerings – a content-focused course and a skill development course,” he notes, to help the university better make its assessments. UNCG can see if MOOCs may be worth funding and further consideration. “We’ll want to see costs, benefits. And we’ll do process evaluation.”

Over the past year, a UNCG Leadership Institute team of Dr. Roberto Campo and Dr. Lawrence Jenkens looked at the phenomenon of MOOCs and their possible role at UNCG. They gave a presentation on the topic in late November. They found that of UNCG’s 18 nationwide peer universities, six offer from one to five MOOCs. In the UNC system, UNC Chapel Hill offers five, NC State offers three and some other campuses are developing them.

UNCG’s DCL has created a MOOC Steering Committee composed of seven members.

By Mike Harris