The dramatic increase in online education, particularly Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), presents researchers, academics, administrators, learners, and policy makers with a range of questions as to the effectiveness of this format of teaching and learning. To date, the impact of MOOCs and emerging forms of digital learning has been largely disseminated through press releases and university reports, with only limited peer-reviewed research publication. The proliferation of MOOCs in higher education requires a concerted and urgent research agenda.
The MOOC Research Initiative (MRI) will fill this research gap by evaluating MOOCs and how they impact teaching, learning, and education in general.
MRI is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of a set of investments intended to explore the potential of MOOCs to extend access to postsecondary credentials through more personalized, more affordable pathways. MRI is a $400,000 investment with grants in the range of $10,000 – $25,000 each. The MRI grant program is led and administered by Athabasca University with support from an advisory committee of experts in learning design and MOOCs. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports Athabasca University and interested academic institutions through research grants to examine the efficacy of early MOOC models for various learner audiences and in a wide variety of contexts.
Due to the rapid development of online education and the pace of MOOC adoption and new technology-enabled models of learning, the grant and research, successful grantees will be announced by the end August, with research beginning immediately. An international conference on MOOC research, which will include interim reports by successful grantees, will be hosted by the University of Texas, Arlington, December 5-6, 2013.
Information on MRI, including call for proposals and timelines, is available at: www.moocresearch.com.
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