MOOCs and the Hubble Telescope: The Big Leap for Higher Education Research

author: Gary W. Matkin, University of California, Irvine
published: June 23, 2014,   recorded: April 2014,   views: 2223

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The University of California, Irvine (UCI) has over 12 years of experience in open education and has most recently focused on MOOCs. This experience has periodically been distilled into research on human learning and specifically adult learning. This research has served to 1) expand the knowledge of learning, 2) feed into a continuous improvement cycle 3) attract research funds to the campus, and 4) serve as an integral part of a strategy to gain faculty support for online and open education.

As one of the first 32 institutional members of Coursera, UCI gained the opportunity to extend its research on learning to new levels. Funding from National Science Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and internal sources was used to form and find answers to carefully posed research questions. In the process, UCI has discovered the potential of MOOC-related research and has identified some barriers to further progress.

This presentation will briefly describe UCI’s research method and findings from our MOOC experience to illustrate the very preliminary advantages that MOOCs provide researchers and why MOOCs might be as important to learning research as the Hubble Telescope has been to cosmology. It will also describe the barriers MOOC and OER researchers face, particularly in dealing with data ownership and Personally Identifiable Information, and what the OCW community might do to remove those barriers.

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