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In a new publication in PLOS ONE, a team of CIRTL colleagues discusses how thousands of future STEM faculty around the world have been prepared to adopt evidence-based instructional practices through their participation in two massive open online courses (MOOCs) and facilitated in-person learning communities. A total of 14,977 participants enrolled in seven offerings of the introductory course held 2014–2018, with 1,725 participants (11.5% of enrolled) completing the course. The team used three guiding questions in exploring the impact of these courses:

  • Will our model enroll participants of our intended audience (future STEM faculty) at a scale beyond that typically reached by traditional on-campus or synchronous professional development programs?
  • To what extent will participants increase their knowledge of and confidence in delivering effective STEM instruction?
  • What effects will the MOOC-Centered Learning Communities (MCLCs) have on participation and participant outcomes in the broader MOOC?

The results of high levels of engagement and learning suggest that leveraging the affordances of educational technologies and the geographically clustered nature of this learner demographic in combination with online flexible learning could be a sustainable model for large scale professional development in higher education.

Authors: Bennett B. Goldberg, Derek O. Bruff, Robin McC. Greenler, Katherine Barnicle, Noah H. Green, Lauren E. P. Campbell, Sandra L. Laursen, Matthew J. Ford, Amy Serafini, Claude Mack, Tamara L. Carley, Christina Maimone, Henry (Rique) Campa III