By: Diane Stirling
The planning, design, and implementation processes behind two Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) offered by the School of Information Studies (iSchool)—and their successful outcomes—will be the subject of a presentation at an educational leadership conference in London this week.
Peggy Brown, director of learning systems and an adjunct instructor at the iSchool, will provide fellow professionals a look at the before and after efforts that went into the implementation of two MOOCs, “An Introduction to Data Science with R,” and “New Librarianship: The Master Class,” both offered by the School this year. Her presentation to a group of online education professionals and educators at the autumn gathering of the Blackboard Education Leadership Forum will focus on the elements that produced successful outcomes. Brown expects to illustrate the planning, promotion, enrollment, engagement, implementation, and follow-up processes that produced the higher-than-normal participation and completion rates the School experienced.
“From the beginning, we created a team of experts inside the iSchool, and that team of experts clearly defined the goals and outcomes of the MOOC before we even began to design the courses, then that same team carried through to their completion,” Brown explained. She said the iSchool team also “defined compelling reasons for students to take the course,” making clear the opportunities offered for professional development and/or educational credits, as well as “clear criteria for completion.” Additional factors contributing to the MOOCs’ positive outcomes, she said, is that each of the courses were connected to the availability of a course e-book authored by iSchool faculty, as well as having those expert faculty members affiliated with the course.
The iSchool was selected by Blackboard to present as a client who uses its online educational platform, something Brown sees as a reinforcer of the MOOCs’ effectiveness. “Being held up as an excellent model of online learning at an international conference, and having Syracuse University be chosen to speak because of our unique ability to develop a really good documented process is significant,” she added.
The School’s first MOOC offering also was the first MOOC to be offered by any of the schools at Syracuse University.
Brown administers instructional resources and has been the instructional designer for the School’s distance learning programs since 2000. She earned her master's degree in Instruction, Design, Development and Evaluation from the Syracuse University School of Education and her bachelor’s degree in Information Management and Technology from the iSchool.
Other topics being examined at the conference include how universities are dealing with rising student expectations; new models for delivering education; and changes in educational funding models. Those discussions include a look at the role MOOCs play in that equation and how institutions can realize value from MOOCs, as well as use them as a means to increase recruitment, engagement, satisfaction and retention of students.