As a new round of massive open online courses gets underway during the next few weeks, university leaders have put out a call to encourage more faculty to come together in multi-unit teams to design and create additional MOOCs.

To help spur these collaborations and encourage experimentation, the Office of Digital Education and Innovation will assist and offer seed funding to teams that will engage in innovative teaching and learning through online courses that benefit a global audience and the residential university.

“With these multidisciplinary courses we hope to showcase Michigan’s unique ability to prepare learners to address complex global challenges,” says James DeVaney, assistant vice provost for digital education. “We also hope to optimize a residential learner’s ability to access content, expertise and engaged learning opportunities across this vast and special institution.”

DeVaney says the university already has seen great strides with pedagogical experimentation, learning analytics, engaging global learners and modular design.

“If we dream just a little, we can begin to imagine rich digital courses in areas such as sustainability, leadership, aging, manufacturing, design innovation, big data, diversity and equity, and global health, to name a few,” he says.

Some of the courses currently being offered provide examples of how something created for a global audience also can serve the residential campus community, and vice versa, he says. 

“Take Professor Gautam Kaul’s Introduction to Finance MOOC. The modules and digital assets created for the MOOC have been repurposed to flip the finance core at (the Stephen M. Ross School of Business) and create advanced, personalized learning experiences for MBA students,” he says.

“Professor Margaret Wooldridge teaches a MOOC on the introduction to thermodynamics, which led to the creation of assessments that now strengthen her course in Ann Arbor. Professor Richard Meisler teaches a course about AIDS on campus to undergraduates and also to global learners through a MOOC.”

To be eligible for assistance and funding, teams must:

• Consist of two or more faculty partners from at least two academic units.

• Demonstrate a clear plan to use content created in the MOOC to enhance residential courses and learning experiences in Ann Arbor.

• Demonstrate a clear plan to help global learners develop a practical skill or habit of mind.

• Identify opportunities to enhance learning opportunities available to U-M alumni.

Proposals may be submitted through Aug. 31. Faculty teams are encouraged to connect with the Office of Digital Education & Innovation at any point to discuss ideas. Award notification will occur within two weeks of the proposal submission date.

Since the university began offering MOOCs two-and-a-half years ago, U-M faculty members have designed 29 of them that have reached some 3 million students of all ages around the world.

A new round of 13 courses have staggered start times through June, with some getting underway this week. It’s not too late to join any one of them, DeVaney says.