P673: What role should massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other open courseware have in chemical education?
Online chemistry courses have been available for more than a decade, but the emergence of completely open courseware has recently invoked controversy in academic communities. If education is available free to anyone who has access to an internet connection, then how will this affect traditional institutions? If strong introductory courses are available online, will that enhance the ability of colleges and universities to teach higher level chemistry in campus classes? Or, on the other hand, will the production of “recorded” courses with monitoring by teaching assistants erode smaller institutions and promote the casualization of teaching labor? Moreover, what are the current pedagogy limitations of asynchronous online courses on current platforms, and how can these be addressed? What are students learning in free chemistry courses that are not for credit? Does this movement really expand opportunities to learn chemistry, and for whom are the opportunities expanded? We are researching the goals, motivations, sense of community, and learning outcomes of students in massive open online courses (MOOCs.) This has been probed through a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods via analysis of survey responses, student writing in both formal and informal settings, performance on graded assignments, and semi-structured live interviews with a stratified sample of students in courses offered through Coursera. The structure of the courses, general characteristics of the student populations, and quantitative results will be outlined. From there, attendees of the session will be invited to engage in an open dialogue about the goals, challenges, and future of MOOCs.