Georgetown’s inaugural massive open online course “Globalization’s Winners and Losers: Challenges for Developed and Developing Countries,” successfully completed its seven week run in December, awarding nearly 6,000 certificates to students from all over the world and inspiring several real-world offshoots in countries like Kazakhstan.
The 14,000 active users of the course on analyzing the effects of globalization came from nearly 150 countries and each used the course for a different purpose, according to School of Foreign Service Associate Director of the Landegger Program in International Business Diplomacy Rosaelena O’Neil. According to Professor Theodore Moran, who taught the course, nearly half of the users completed the program.
“We know anecdotally from our discussion boards and surveys that some students were taking the course for professional development requirements in their jobs, some students were taking it for credit that their own institutions were giving them credit for … and others were wanting the certificate just for personal satisfaction,” O’Neil said.
To complete the course, students were required to watch class videos, complete readings and post on discussion boards on the online course platform edX, as well as complete assessments.
Emily Cheung, the lead TA for the course, acknowledged the immediate feedback the course gave students through discussion boards.
“I think when you open up a course of this size on a platform like edX that has such an active discussion board, I think feedback is given immediately for everything,” Cheung said.
Moran said that many students also used the forum to debate readings and bring up criticisms and suggestions for the course.
“They were not bashful about giving their own experiences and their own reactions,” he said.
A large production team and group of researchers worked alongside Georgetown professors throughout the summer to create the course, which had an initial budget of $100,000, not including videography.
“Like every new project, I suspect that the cost is going to be exponentially less for other MOOCs,” O’Neil said. “This particular team had a particular chemistry that worked amazingly well and allowed us to produce something that was inconceivable in a short period of time.”
According to Moran, the MOOC has inspired teachers globally to adapt the course to their respective classrooms.
“One professor in Kazakhstan and a couple professors in Africa have told me that they are going to use this course as the basis for a real, physical course that they are going to give at their institutions,” Moran said.
While Moran expressed that MOOCs would certainly help propel the future of education, he did not believe such online courses could ever be substituted for a physical Georgetown education.
“This will never replace a Georgetown education,” Moran said. “There’s a reason why you’re paying, but this is part of the Jesuit outreach ethic of trying to go outside the walls of the university and offer service to the world.”
The MOOC team has already begun work on a reiteration of the course that is speculated to begin in the fall of next year, according to O’Neil.
The university will unveil its second MOOC course, “Introduction to Bioethics,” in April 2014.