People behind the MOOC

Karolinska Institutet’s first massive open online courses (MOOC) went live in fall 2014. A team of teachers, designers, developers, pedagogues and project managers dedicated several months of hard work to create the web-based courses for several thousand participants.

The courses Behavioral Medicine: A Key to Better Health and Explore Statistics with R were designed and produced by staff from the Unit for Medical Education (UME) and the department of Educational Technology Support (IKT) from KI’s university library (KIB). Both groups belong to the Centre of Learning and Knowledge (CLK).

The teams supported the teachers with all parts of the development of the MOOCs: the pedagogical concept, the technical development and programming and the recording of video lectures.

Like learning a new language

Since Karolinska Institutet is the first Swedish university to offer massive open online courses, new pedagogical and technical competences were needed in order to design the courses, as Carina Bois, project manager for the MOOC Behavioral Medicine: A Key to Better Health, describes.

“Preparing a MOOC for the edX platform is like learning a new language. You need to communicate using a new medium, learning the best ways of interacting with students using the special features of the platform,” says Carina Bois.

“The big challenge with MOOCs is to pre-design everything, from the overall design to small details and thus try to figure out what the course participants’ needs are, without really knowing who they are or what country they come from,” adds Linda Barman, project manager for the MOOC Explore Statistics with R.

A rewarding experience

Even though the experience of preparing a MOOC has been challenging, it was worth it in the end.

“It is really exciting to be part of a course that has the potential to reach several thousand participants from all over the world! Today we have more than 32 000 participants,” says Linda Barman.

“The most exciting thing is that you are sharing this platform with universities all over the world and reaching out to students in all walks of life, in all countries with diverse ethic backgrounds, giving them the opportunity to learn and develop using the resources that you have helped put together. That is the challenge and the reward,” says Carina Bois.