Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

=> Open RFP for new MOOCs (Pre-proposal due Noon, April 11, 2016).

After three years, UMD has become a leader in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) with some of the highest enrollments and most profitable courses offered by Coursera. Two of UMD's courses are rated among the Top 10 MOOCs of all time by enrollment - a rare feat for any single University. We have developed over 20 courses so far with specializations in mobile programming, cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, and resume writing and job interviewing in english for non-native speakers. These MOOCs have provided unprecedented exposure to UMD expertise, with more than 2 million registered students. If you would like to see all of the courses offered, click here.

UMD's courses have received many positive reviews. Learners from around the world have thanked course instructors for helping them to reach their learning objectives. One student claimed that she left the workforce a decade ago to start a family. Recently, the Cybersecurity courses helped her to re-enter the workforce through obtaining a job in the field.

These courses are engaging our faculty in creative use of technology, not only to scale up student learning, but also to analyze teaching methods and resulting learning outcomes to improve course materials and pedagogy. These improvements in teaching methods and materials are then often being used by our instructors in our for-credit classes. When the classroom is "flipped", some of the content is learned outside of class with MOOC material, and class time can then be used for more active, engaging and challenging work. The result is that MOOCs are improving our face-to-face classes.

While most students take the MOOCs for free, they also have the option of paying a small fee for an authenticated certificate. A good chunk of those fees comes back to UMD to run the MOOC program and to support the instructors in developing and running the courses. Finally, we are also finding success in converting students who take our MOOCs to become paying UMD students, especially for our online professional graduate programs.

We offer continuous campus-wide Requests For Proposals to develop a new set of MOOCs on the Coursera platform. We plan on adding approximately four new courses funded by the Provost’s Office with the goal of expanding the successes described above. Our goal is to start course development in the Spring with new courses to be offered starting in the fall of 2016. All full-time campus faculty are eligible to apply.

There are numerous resources available to understand the process of creating a MOOC. If you would like more information about what it takes to develop a course using the Coursera platform, contact our existing MOOC instructors, or contact the program manager, Bill Aarhus, at coursera-support@umd.edu. It is also possible to talk to Coursera about content strategy while your are developing your proposal. For any of this support, please email coursera-support@umd.edu.

RFP Details

As described in general below, the proposal requires detailed information about the proposed course including syllabus, market, your capabilities, sample video, and expected campus impact including how the materials will be used on campus, and how MOOC students might be "converted" to paying UMD students. Course sequences (known as "specializations" by Coursera) will also be considered.

=> Click here for the RFP specifics (Pre-proposal due Noon, April 11, 2016).

While you will be provided with both financial and personal support in the development of your course, our expectations are high. Furthermore, the development of the course will have to be partially developed before being publicly announced, and it will have to be substantially completed (including videos and assessments) before the course is launched. Courses should be designed to run for approximately 4-6 weeks.

Courses developed for the upcoming RFP are not offered for academic credit, and faculty will not be given teaching release time. For courses that are selected, the Provost’s office will provide funding and services to support their development and continued offering. In addition. a portion of revenue generated from the course will be shared back with the instructor and the instructor's units.

Courses will be selected according to the following criteria, weighted equally:

  • Enhance UMD's reputation: Courses must help the public perceive our excellence – which can be made apparent through a range of course characteristics. Offerings that are likely to appeal to a broad set of students, demonstrate UMD's breadth, excellence in pedagogy and clarity of communication and course structure are all important. But so is engagement, fairness of assessments, and relevant and engaging course material.
  • Enhance UMD courses: Instructors that have a plan for enhancing their UMD courses (face to face or online) through the use of the MOOC content or analyses will be more highly ranked.
  • Student recruitment: We want to bring students to our UMD online and campus programs. MOOCs that are natural entry points to our paying programs, and proposals that have specific plans for recruiting those students will be more highly ranked.
  • Be able to run course successfully: Creating and running a successful MOOC requires a significant commitment. These courses require substantially more than recording video lectures. Rather, the material must be broken down into small segments with integrated quizzes and assessments that can be graded automatically (or by peers) with potentially tens of thousands of students. The instructor must have some experience creating video, and be comfortable with video and online learning technologies.

You are also welcome to propose an innovative course structure or arrangement, including specializations. In this case, please discuss your idea in advance with Ben Bederson, Associate Provost of Learning Initiatives @ bederson@umd.edu.