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Colorado State University to offer first MOOC this fall

August 23, 2013

Expanding access

In support of CSU’s land-grant mission to provide access to high-quality education, CSU OnlinePlus is launching the university’s first free online course, or MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), this fall. 

“CSU OnlinePlus strives meet the changing needs of students in the ever-evolving landscape of higher education by making available the exceptional expertise of our University faculty and innovative online learning technology,” commented Jordan Fritts, CSU OnlinePlus interim associate provost. “CSU is proud to be one of the first land grant institutions to offer free, online courses as a way to build on the university’s outreach and engagement mission.”

Building awareness of CSU faculty expertise

Popularly known as MOOCs, free online courses are noncredit, social-based courses that provide educational access to the public at no cost. They are typically less immersive than credit courses one would expect to experience at a university, offering more generalized content that’s meant to provide students with a breadth of understanding across the subject matter in a way each individual chooses to experience it.

The first MOOC to be offered, “Science of Relationships,” was selected because of its ability to demonstrate CSU faculty expertise and its broad appeal.  

Two additional MOOCs are anticipated to be available in spring 2014. “Water, People, and Nature – Addressing 21st Century Global Challenges” offers a chance for CSU to showcase its nationally-renowned reputation in the water industry with more than 13 expert faculty from five different colleges. “Exploring Student Affairs in the Higher Education Profession” gives students the opportunity to discover the student affairs discipline and experience the different roles this profession offers.

Connecting students to online learning and future opportunities

While the level of student participation is completely up to each individual, as there are no formal grades and all assessments are optional, MOOCs serve as a sample of what the online learning experience at CSU is like. These courses offer students a preview of CSU faculty and the high quality education the institution is known for, without any kind of monetary investment on their end.

The faculty involved are looking for ways to creatively engage students, which is another reason the courses were chosen as the first CSU MOOCs. The courses' translation into potential supplemental instruction through programs currently offered online and on-campus made them a natural fit.

The MOOCs are developed through The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) and CSU OnlinePlus course development team, in partnership with CSU faculty, most of whom are currently teaching in online programs. For example, “Science of Relationships,” is taught by Dr. Jennifer Harman, who also teaches in the online Psychology bachelor’s degree-completion program.

“After researching, writing, and teaching about intimate relationships for almost 15 years, I have become passionate about making social psychological research about relationships more accessible and applicable to people’s real lives,” explained Harman. “I am excited to offer this Science of Relationships MOOC so that students can learn about how social psychological research can help them form their own scientifically based conclusions about relationships, rather than just those based on opinion or drawn from self-help books.”   

Registering students now

The “Science of Relationships” MOOC is now open for registration, and begins Sept. 23. “Water, People, and Nature – Addressing 21st Century Global Challenges” and “Exploring Student Affairs in the Higher Education Profession” are anticipated to be available spring 2014.

Learn more about MOOCs.

Contact: Amy Jo Miller
Phone: (970) 491-2277