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USU's First MOOC

Thursday, Mar. 07, 2013

USU associate professor Andy Walker

Andy Walker, associate professor of instructional technology and learning science (ITLS), is teaching Utah State University's first Massively Open Online Course (MOOC).

Andy Walker, associate professor of instructional technology and learning sciences (ITLS), is teaching Utah State University’s first Massively Open Online Course (MOOC).

ITLS 5245/6245, interactive multimedia production, is an online course that currently has 500 students enrolled from around the world. The class is free and is not credit based.

MOOCs present a unique challenge because it is hard to provide appropriate feedback to so many learners, Walker said.

“Many MOOCs either provide automated feedback through quizzes or treat the class as a correspondence course with minimal feedback from the professor,” he said.

Walker’s approach is to use problem-based learning. Rather than lecture and assess, he presents students with real life problems, gives them appropriate resources to solve them and then asks them to reflect on their own work as well as evaluate the efforts of fellow learners.

“If they meet the design criteria for an assignment, it will be because they learned something critical about Flash,” says Walker.

For Walker, there are several reasons to teach this class as a MOOC. In part, it is about increasing the visibility of USU and the ITLS department. It is also a means for refining and improving his teaching for USU students, but ultimately it is about the research. 

Walker has received a grant from USU to support research on future versions of the MOOC. His goal is to collect data about what students do in the class, what resources they use, and what factors impact learner satisfaction, retention, and learning.

“I’ll be exploring ways to find struggling students early on, keep them interested in the class, and help them discover solutions to challenging and complex problems,” says Walker. 

Read more about the course in The Herald Journal and an online interview.

Related links:

USU Department of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences

USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services

Writer: Amanda Harris, 214-909-7484

Contact: Andrew Walker, 435-797-2614,

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