Designing, Developing, and Delivering MOOCs to further Institutional Goals

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Instructional designers discuss the design, development, and delivery process for launching a series of MOOCs to address institutional needs arising in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The MOOCs are open to all, completely free, asynchronous, and provide pathways for college credit should students wish to enroll at our institution.


Dr. Scott Vann is the Assistant Director of Digital Learning for The University of Memphis. Scott oversees the UM3D team that manages the design, development and delivery of all UofM Global courses. Scott also is involved with corporate partnerships, such as the FedEx LiFE program, managing all instructional technologies. His focus is providing innovative technologies to assist faculty with designing and developing quality online programs for UofM Global. Scott has an EdD in Instructional Design and Technology. His primary research interests are within gamification-based learning, especially within faculty professional development.

Extended Abstract

Like many institutions of higher education (IHE), our large southeastern research university found itself needing creative solutions to stave off enrollment declines due to moving fully online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One novel solution to the problem was implemented by a collaboration between one of the institutions’ colleges and  the institution’s instructional designers. Together, both groups created a series of MOOCs that leveraged the quality instruction of faculty and the latest innovation in instructional design and technology to offer quality asynchronous online courses at no cost to students around the world. 

Three broad themes will be discussed in detail. First, we will discuss the administrative challenges. This will include a discussion of institutional needs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as how departments collaborated to create MOOCs. This section will discuss how faculty, staff, and university administration worked together to make MOOCs possible at our institution as well as the steps taken to ensure a high quality course was the output of all this collaboration. Through collaboration, we were able to offer a quality educational experience that could be redeemed for college credit should the student wish to enroll at our institution. 

Second we will discuss the design, development, and delivery of the course. It was important that students new to online learning be able to successfully interact with these MOOCs and meet their learning objectives. Furthermore, MOOCs needed to be designed from the ground-up as a completely asynchronous experience, and we will share how they were designed and delivered completely asynchronously. Here, we will discuss how instructional designers leveraged Open Educational Resources (OER) to provide no-cost instructional content for students since it was important for us to keep the entire experience free for our students. Additionally, we will discuss how the courses were developed to be fully accessible for all learners ensuring an engaging yet equitable learning environment. Accessibility will be discussed from both a technological and disability perspective.

Third, we will discuss how we leveraged MOOCs to build stronger relationships with both the state as well as our corporate partners. First, we partnered with our state’s college reengagement program for potential adult students. Our state government has placed an importance on getting adults with some college to go back into an IHE to complete their degree. We will then discuss how we used our MOOCs in our corporate partnerships to provide credit bearing educational experiences that are not bound to rigid start and end dates. This is essential for successful corporate partnerships since they serve as an open pipeline funneling students into our institutions, and MOOCs ensure we have options for them no matter when they want to start. 

Given the amount of information presenters will need to cover to fully discuss the design, development, and delivery as well as the institutional challenges and course outcomes, the interactivity of this presentation will be limited to a Q&A. We will begin the Q&A with a live survey to best tailor the discussion to the audience in attendance. Launching a MOOC, especially at an IHE that does not have a history of offering them, possesses an immense institutional challenge as administrators attempt to implement them. 

    As a result of attending our presentation, participants will come away with the following takeaways:

  • the organizational challenges in launching a fully asynchronous MOOC at absolutely no cost to anyone

  • a better understanding of how best to leverage the open access of MOOCs to drive interest in a college’s credit bearing courses as well as market the quality of a college’s or institution’s online education.

  • How best-practices from the design and delivery of online courses can be leveraged for student success in a MOOC.

  • How instructional designers can work effectively with subject matter experts and OER resources to create high-quality yet open educational experiences.