I’ll note that we’re not the first group to blend online and face-to-face learning in this way. The University of Mary Washington’s digital storytelling course, ds106, uses a similar structure, as does FemTechNet’s “distributed open collaborative course,” Dialogues on Feminism and Technology, and Duke University’s upcoming MOOC, The History and Future of Higher Education, led by Cathy Davidson. We hope to learn from these experiments as we leverage expertise across the CIRTL Network in implementing learning communities on behalf of future faculty preparation.

The word “open” in the acronym MOOC can mean different things. Typically, MOOCs are open enrollment, in that students aren’t vetted by any kind of admissions process. MOOCs are also usually free, another form of openness. A third notion of “open” is open-source, a term originally describing software whose code is freely available for programmers to adapt and modify.

The two CIRTL Network MOOCs will be open-source in the sense that the materials we develop for the courses (videos, assignments, activities, other resources) will be made available for reuse and remixing by anyone interested in preparing future STEM faculty.

For instance, a faculty member teaching a graduate course on college science teaching might want to incorporate a few MOOC videos and assignments in the course without participating fully or synchronously in the MOOC. The open-source licensing on the MOOC materials will permit this, and we will provide a kind of instructor’s guide for the materials to help individuals use and adapt them locally.

I’m very excited about this initiative, in part because it poses an interesting design challenge–using the global learning community of a MOOC to connect and enhance local learning communities around the world–and in part because of the positive impact on undergraduate education these MOOCs will have now and in the future.

If you have any questions about this grant, feel free to send me an email.

If you would like to host one of the MOOC-supported learning communities next fall, let me know that, too! And if you’re a Vanderbilt graduate student who would like to be involved (whether you’re in a STEM field or not), get in touch, since some of the grant funds will go toward the support of two graduate student fellows in 2014.

This blog post originally appeared on Agile Learning.