The foundation will provide grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 to approved researchers, who have until July 7 to submit a proposal. The grants will be administered by Athabasca and used to study several areas of MOOC effectiveness such as student outcomes, learning design, cost and performance, university policy and impact, and alternative MOOC formats.

The grantees will present some of their findings at a conference in early December at the University of Texas, Arlington.

“The dramatic increase in online education, particularly MOOCs presents researchers, academics, administrators, learners, and policy makers with a range of questions as to the effectiveness of this format of teaching and learning,” Siemens said.

The MOOC Research Initiative is just the most recent concentrated attempt to cut through the MOOC hype with research. Last month, Vanderbilt University announced the creation of the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning, which will also study online learning and MOOCs, encouraging faculty and students to research digital resources.


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