Asee peer logo

A Multidisciplinary MOOC on Creativity, Innovation, and Change: Encouraging Experimentation and Experiential Learning on a Grand Scale

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Experiential Learning

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.75.1 - 24.75.24



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Kathryn Jablokow Pennsylvania State University

visit author page

Dr. Kathryn Jablokow is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Design at Penn State University. A graduate of Ohio State University (Ph.D., Electrical Engineering), Dr. Jablokow’s teaching and research interests include problem solving, invention, and creativity in science and engineering, as well as robotics and computational dynamics. In addition to her membership in ASEE, she is a Senior Member of IEEE and a Fellow of ASME. Dr. Jablokow is the architect of a unique 4-course module focused on creativity and problem solving leadership and is currently developing a new methodology for cognition-based design. She is one of three instructors for Penn State’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Creativity, Innovation, and Change, and she is the founding director of the Problem Solving Research Group, whose 50+ collaborating members include faculty and students from several universities, as well as industrial representatives, military leaders, and corporate consultants.

visit author page

author page

Jack V. Matson Pennsylvania State University, University Park


Darrell Velegol Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Darrell Velegol attended West Virginia University for his BS in Chemical Engineering, and he earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 1997 working with Professors John L. Anderson and Stephen Garoff. In 1998 Velegol won the Victor K. LaMer Award of the American Chemical Society for the best PhD in the field of Colloid & Surface Science. He continued with a post-doc in the Center for Light Microscope Imaging and Biotechnology at Carnegie Mellon, working under Professor Fred Lanni of the Biology Department. In June 1999 Velegol joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at Penn State, where he was promoted to Associate Professor in 2005. Velegol won an NSF CAREER Award in 2000, and has continued to be funded by NSF, DOE, EPA, PRF, the Air Force, and other agencies for his work with colloidal forces, colloidal assembly, electrokinetic flows, and colloidal motors. His research investigates the fabrication of colloidal assemblies and devices, with a specialty in understanding the interparticle forces and sorting processes. His research group uses a wide range of experimental and modeling approaches. In 2009 Velegol was promoted to Full Professor at Penn State. For his work in experimental and theoretical problems in the dynamics of complex colloidal particles, Velegol was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011, and appointed as a Distinguished Professor at Penn State in 2012. He is a member of ACS, AIChE, AAAS, and ASEE. More recently, he has engaged in studying the “physics of community”, pursuing questions in learning, creativity, motivation, trust and deceit, courage, and other social science ideas using results from physics, chemistry, biology, and chemical engineering. In 2011 he published a book, Wild Scholars, available through, and he seeks to impact education from grade school to college. In 2013, he published a book CENTER, which details six practices needed to go from your passions and purposes, to making a change in the world. In Fall 2013, he is teaching a MOOC called “Creativity, Innovation, and Change”, which has over 120,000 students.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Can a MOOC Do Project-Based Learning? Encouraging Experimentation and Experiential Learning on a Grand Scale Although they are still new on the educational scene, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)are already the subject of great debate in terms of their educational value, academic rigor, andfinancial sustainability, among other issues. They also take on many different forms in terms oftheir teaching/learning approach, although most focus primarily on straightforward contentdelivery, with their students assessed via traditional online quizzes and exams.In this paper, we will discuss our development and implementation of a MOOC designed toencourage experimentation and experiential learning above content mastery. Our MOOC wasformulated as a multidisciplinary course (engineering, technology, business, liberal arts, socialsciences) using the Coursera platform. It was designed to enable three levels of studentparticipation, which correspond generally to: 1. Students who occasionally interact with the course (“just visiting”); 2. Students who digest the video/reading material and complete the exercises; 3. Students who digest the video/reading material, complete the exercises, and complete a course project.The videos and reading material were developed based on three pillars: Intelligent Fast Failure,Creative Diversity, and CENTER (Character-Excellence-owNership-Tenacity-Entrepreneurship-Relationship). Intelligent Fast Failure focuses on the “rapid prototyping” of ideas, products, andprocesses, while Creative Diversity and CENTER focus on the impact of individual cognitivedifferences and core personal principles on those ideas and outcomes. Building on these pillars,multiple exercises were offered each week, in which MOOC students were given experientialtasks to perform. These tasks were assessed via individual reflection surveys, which were scoredbased on completion rather than performance. Finally, students who participated at the highestlevel of activity were asked to complete a course project (as part of a team or alone). Theseprojects were self-identified and were required only to follow a problem-solving process modelthat included experimentation as one of its major stages. Similar to the course exercises, studentsassessed their own project results via a semi-structured reflection survey, while peers could giveformative feedback if requested. Social media was employed to encourage teamwork.Our paper will explore several key questions: first, to what degree and in what ways did studentsengage in our project-based MOOC? Second, can self-assessment and peer assessment serve asviable tools for students in this context? We will also analyze the extent to which we achievedthe key aim of our course – i.e., encouraging experimentation and experiential learning amongour MOOC students. Lastly, we will consider the overall benefits and challenges or our approachand the potential for blending MOOCs with face-to-face engineering courses.

Jablokow, K., & Matson, J. V., & Velegol, D. (2014, June), A Multidisciplinary MOOC on Creativity, Innovation, and Change: Encouraging Experimentation and Experiential Learning on a Grand Scale Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--19967

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015