According to Leeds, the process of designing the university’s first MOOC began with asking faculty why they wanted to create a MOOC, requiring a rigorous curriculum, and requiring an assessment system with authentication.

“For faculty it was almost like an RFP for MOOCs,” she said.

Leeds and her team chose K-12 Online and Blended Learning because it benefited these areas:

  • Industry: K-12 is experiencing huge growth in online and blended learning
  • Employer: Thanks to the economic downturn, employers are often looking for teachers who embody these skill sets
  • Learner and faculty: Students are interested in the topic and faculty currently provides a great course
  • Authority: The course was approved by PSC and PLUs.
  • University and college: The course could be used as an elective in four different M.Ed grad programs

“In order to have the attendee receive optional credits, we needed to have the same learning objectives and curriculum and assessment standards as our online learning courses, and here’s the thing: The term MOOC sounds cool and new, but aren’t we already doing this with online learning?” asked Leeds.

To take the vision to reality, Leeds asked Lectra Lawhorne, executive director of IT Services, to build a Virtual Assessment Center (VAC) for students and faculty, which includes a weekly reporting component to department heads and the registrar.

Here’s what the VAC process looks like for students:


For faculty:


The VAC’s technical components include: ASP, Javascript/JSON-P/AJAX, VBScript, SQL, and XML. Future technical phases and considerations include banner SIS integration automation, automation of email validation for LDAP Account setup, leveraging SlimCD reporting API for more integrated report generation, and additional MOOCS for 2015.

Leeds also emphasized that knowing how the MOOC could potentially generate revenue is critical, as well as planning ahead.

“We figured we’d need about 1,500 students to enroll in the course with about 4 students enrolling in the university at the end, since the total cost of this MOOC was roughly $20K. What we had was around 9,000 students enroll, with 12 portfolios evaluated for credit at $250/review and 7 students enrolling in the university, so we definitely saw a return,” explained Leeds.

(Next page: Are you ready for an online program?)

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