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MOOC on a Budget: Development and Implementation of a Low-cost MOOC at a State University

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Online Teaching

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1168.1 - 26.1168.25



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Paper Authors


Paul Morrow Nissenson California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Paul Nissenson (Ph.D. Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of California, Irvine, 2009) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He teaches courses in fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and numerical methods. Paul's research interests are studying the impact of technology in engineering education and computer modeling of atmospheric systems.

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Angela C. Shih California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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MOOC on a budget: Development and implementation of a low-cost MOOC at a state universityDuring the past few years, many universities have developed and offered massive open onlinecourses (MOOCs) which seek to educate the general public and promote the university brand.MOOCs have the attractive characteristic of being able to reach thousands of people per offeringand may play an important role in higher education in the future. Currently one of the biggestbarriers to MOOC development is the large initial cost – often exceeding $100,000 – and thepossibility of never recovering those costs through course-related fees. This obstacle preventsmany state universities from creating their own MOOCs, denying faculty at those institutions theopportunity to help build MOOC content and to gain experience with this new pedagogy.This paper presents an effective strategy for state universities to create their own MOOCs usinglocal resources for relatively low cost. The authors discuss the development and implementationof [insert university name]’s first MOOC, which was offered for 10 weeks during Spring 2014.The MOOC was an introduction to computer programming course and was open to everyone inthe world for free. It was developed in stages over two years at a total cost of approximately$10,000 to the university. Significant cost savings were achieved by hosting the MOOC on a freeplatform (Blackboard CourseSites), using previously existing materials, hiring student assistantsfor video production, and utilizing student volunteers to help on discussion boards.A total of 2119 participants enrolled in the course with 335 participants (16%) receiving apassing grade. Participants who were still actively engaged in the course by Week 2 had a muchhigher passing rate of 58%. Discussion boards and optional surveys provided feedback about thecourse format, participants’ demographics, and participants’ attitudes of the course. Mostparticipants possessed at least a bachelor’s degree, took the course primarily to enhance job-related skills, and were unaffiliated with the university. Participants’ comments about the MOOCwere overwhelmingly positive and the MOOC enhanced participants’ attitudes toward theuniversity and subject matter. Based on the success of this first offering, an expanded version ofthe MOOC is planned.

Nissenson, P. M., & Shih, A. C. (2015, June), MOOC on a Budget: Development and Implementation of a Low-cost MOOC at a State University Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24505

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