The Design and Delivery of an Astrobiology Massive Open Online Class | Astrobiology

Abstract:  MOOCs, or massive open online classes have reached hundreds of millions of people around the world in the past decade with a model of free open access learning. They are an excellent vehicle for delivering science to lifelong learners. Building on experience in designing astronomy MOOCs for Udemy and Coursera, we have created an astrobiology MOOC for Coursera called “Astrobiology: Exploring Other Worlds” that launched in April 2019. As of early 2022, about 9000 people have started the course, and nearly 10% of those have completed it. The average user rating is 4.9 out of 5. The core content is 10?h of video lectures, divided into six modules, which cover the possibilities of life in the Solar System, the search for exoplanets, the concept of habitability, the definition of life and basics of biology, evolution of life on Earth, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Pedagogy was designed around clear learning objectives and includes quizzes, writing assignments, and a final project that draws on all the concepts presented in the course where students design their own mission to characterize exoplanets. In this study, we describe the design, implementation, and subsequent success of our 2019 astrobiology MOOC.


The Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory

“With the success of open access publishing, Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and open education practices, the open approach to education has moved from the periphery to the mainstream. This marks a moment of victory for the open education movement, but at the same time the real battle for the direction of openness begins. As with the green movement, openness now has a market value and is subject to new tensions, such as venture capitalists funding MOOC companies. This is a crucial time for determining the future direction of open education.

In this volume, Martin Weller examines four key areas that have been central to the developments within open education: open access, MOOCs, open education resources and open scholarship. Exploring the tensions within these key arenas, he argues that ownership over the future direction of openness is significant to all those with an interest in education….”

Preprints and Publishing in the Life and Biomedical Sciences: | Syllabus Home

“Communicating the work we do as researchers to the scientific community is fundamental to the advancement of science. The traditional mode of communication is through the formal publication of a written manuscript in a scholarly journal that documents the rationale, methods, results, and interpretation of the findings. This process entails 1) the submission of your manuscript to a relevant journal, 2) the decision by Editors at the journal on whether to accept the manuscript for further review by experts in your field (Peer Reviewers), 3) the decision by the Editors, informed by the Peer Reviewers’ recommendations, on whether to accept your manuscript for publication, 4) the preparation of your manuscript for publication, and 5) the final publication and dissemination of your work to the scientific community. Although this process appears straightforward, the length of time it takes can vary from 3 months to years, directly impacting the availability of our work to the scientific community and scientific progress. This delay often means that the scientific literature is up to 6 months behind current research. Moreover, once published, scientific articles are often held behind paywalls preventing many from accessing the work.

One solution to these problems is to make research articles immediately and freely available to the public at the discretion of the scientists are responsible for the scientific work. These types of research articles are termed ‘preprints’; manuscripts that are posted to freely accessible preprint servers prior to formal peer review and publication in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Preprints are regularly used for physics but have, until recently, been largely unused in the biomedical and life sciences. Although publishing and dissemination of our research is fundamental to our careers as scientists, how the publication process works, how manuscripts are evaluated by editors and peer reviewers at journals, and how scientific communication impacts progress in science is often not discussed or formally taught during scientific training. This course covers how the traditional journal-based publication process works by outlining how a manuscript goes from written by the scientist to published in a journal with an emphasis on integrating preprinting as an important step within the process. The target audiences for this course are trainees at the graduate level, junior postdoctoral researchers, and the general public who are interested in understanding the scientific process. The course content will broadly highlight aspects of the current publication system and how preprinting offers an avenue to accelerate scientific progress….”

An open-access transfusion medicine course for medical students – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  The senior author created a two-week online transfusion medicine course for fourth-year medical students to meet an unmet need at our institution. The course includes organized and concise online videos, reading assignments, and 100 quiz questions. Assessments include two oral quizzes via video call with 10 questions per quiz chosen at random from the study questions, and two written assignments to describe transfusion reactions in settings that are relevant to the student’s specialty interests. The students were on camera and shared their device screens to minimize the use of external resources. Anonymous course evaluation surveys were completed by 78 of 102 students (77%). Mean ratings ranged from 6.7 to 7.0 on a seven-point scale. We share our experience as well as our complete materials (including quiz questions and free videos) via open access for this two-week online course in transfusion medicine that may be used for medical students, pathology residents, and other learners.


VCU project awarded state grant supporting the creation of free course materials

“VCU faculty are a part of one of only six projects awarded in the Spring 2022 cycle of the VIVA Open Course Grants. This funding, managed by The Virtual Library of Virginia,  supports faculty in transitioning to course materials available free to students, such as open educational textbooks and/or library resources.

The VCU-led project was selected out of a strong pool of applications and received a combined $8,000 out of $127,145 awarded this cycle. VCU was one of nine Virginia institutions represented in this round of awards. …”

Evaluation of Open Access Websites for Anesthesia Education : Anesthesia & Analgesia

Abstract:  BACKGROUND: 

While the prevalence of free, open access medical education resources for health professionals has expanded over the past 10 years, many educational resources for health care professionals are not publicly available or require fees for access. This lack of open access creates global inequities in the availability and sharing of information and may have the most significant impact on health care providers with the greatest need. The extent of open access online educational websites aimed for clinicians and trainees in anesthesiology worldwide is unknown. In this study, we aimed to identify and evaluate the quality of websites designed to provide open access educational resources for anesthesia trainees and clinicians.


A PubMed search of articles published between 2009 and 2020, and a Startpage search engine web search was conducted in May 2021 to identify websites using the following inclusion criteria: (1) contain educational content relevant for anesthesia providers or trainees, (2) offer content free of charge, and (3) are written in the English language. Websites were each scored by 2 independent reviewers using a website quality evaluation tool with previous validity evidence that was modified for anesthesia (the Anesthesia Medical Education Website Quality Evaluation Tool).


Seventy-five articles and 175 websites were identified; 37 websites met inclusion criteria. The most common types of educational content contained in the websites included videos (66%, 25/37), text-based resources (51%, 19/37), podcasts (35%, 13/37), and interactive learning resources (32%, 12/37). Few websites described an editorial review process (24%, 9/37) or included opportunities for active engagement or interaction by learners (30%,11/37). Scores by tertile differed significantly across multiple domains, including disclosure of author/webmaster/website institution; description of an editorial review process; relevancy to residents, fellows, and faculty; comprehensiveness; accuracy; disclosure of content creation or revision; ease of access to information; interactivity; clear and professional presentation of information; and links to external information.


We found 37 open access websites for anesthesia education available on the Internet. Many of these websites may serve as a valuable resource for anesthesia clinicians looking for self-directed learning resources and for educators seeking to curate resources into thoughtfully integrated learning experiences. Ongoing efforts are needed to expand the number and improve the existing open access websites, especially with interactivity, to support the education and training of anesthesia providers in even the most resource-limited areas of the world. Our findings may provide recommendations for those educators and organizations seeking to fill this needed gap to create new high-quality educational websites.

Open Source Research Methods for the Social Sciences

“Welcome! This website has all the materials I use for teaching research methods within the Psychology major at Pitt. I’m making these materials public, and calling this project Open Source Research Methods for the Social Sciences (osRMss). I hope that you find the content useful. I look forward to getting feedback and suggestions and to continually improve osRMss over time….”

Open Source Research Methods for the Social Sciences

“Welcome! This website has all the materials I use for teaching research methods within the Psychology major at Pitt. I’m making these materials public, and calling this project Open Source Research Methods for the Social Sciences (osRMss). I hope that you find the content useful. I look forward to getting feedback and suggestions and to continually improve osRMss over time….”

Analysis of Harvard Medical School Countway Library’s MOOC Course, Best Practices for Biomedical Research Data Management: Learner Demographics and Motivations

Abstract:  The Harvard Medical School Countway Library’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Best Practices for Biomedical Research Data Management launched on Canvas in January 2018. This report analyzes learner reported data and course generated analytics from March 2020 through June 2021 for the course. This analysis focuses on three subsets of participant data during the pandemic to understand global learner demographics and interest in biomedical research data management. 

Lazarus & Suryasen (2022) The quality of higher education through MOOC penetration and the role of academic libraries

Lazarus, Flora Charles, and Rajneesh Suryasen. 2022. “The Quality of Higher Education Through MOOC Penetration and the Role of Academic Libraries”. Insights 35: 9. DOI:


The governments of emerging economies have realized the potential of massive open online courses (MOOCs) for enhancing the quality of higher education, but MOOC penetration is still very low in countries like India. This article explores the issues relating to MOOC integration and attempts to identify the key drivers for the adoption of a MOOC-based curriculum. Integration into the curriculum, the MOOC services of the academic library and the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development’s (MHRD) policy and support are identified as the key drivers for increasing MOOC penetration. The article also suggests a direct relationship between the level of MOOC penetration and the quality of higher education in emerging economies. The practical implications for practice and policy are classification of the MOOC services of the academic library and a decision-making model that chooses a hybrid learning strategy for higher educational institutions.


An Overseas Ed-Tech Firm Wants to Buy 2U. What Could That Mean for Colleges?

“Byju’s, an ed-tech behemoth based in India, has put more than $1 billion on the table to acquire the online program manager, Bloomberg first reported late last month. 2U is one of the largest online-program managers, or OPMs, in the United States, known for scaling up online-degree programs and teaming up with more than 130 American colleges, including large institutions such as Arizona State, New York, and Syracuse Universities. It’s also the parent company of the online-course provider edX….

The worry among colleges, these experts say, is that if Byju’s wanted to shave costs or focus more on short-term, course-level products, it could scale back that “high-touch” model that many institutions have come to expect in exchange for paying 2U millions of dollars through tuition-sharing agreements. There’s wariness, too, of temporary disruptions that can happen whenever a company undergoes reorganization.

College leaders fear that Byju’s intent is to “use the toehold and cash flow to accomplish some other goal,” and that 2U’s clients will not be a priority, said Clay Shirky, vice provost for educational technologies at New York University, which works with 2U. “That’s what we’re worried about.” …”

‘‘They Didn’t Care’: Inside One University’s Sputtering Online Partnership With 2U’ | Jeff Pooley

Michael Vasquez, writing for The Chronicle [paywalled] a few weeks ago: When a pair of professors stepped down from their posts at Arcadia University this year, without another job lined up, they did so to halt the creation of a physician-assistant program in partnership with 2U, the online-learning giant. […] After the full-time faculty members left, the program director also stepped down — further dampening any hopes of launching the program soon, as a program director must be on the job for 15 months before any accreditor visit. The resignations came several months after the accreditor’s virtual site visit to evaluate Arcadia’s fledgling hybrid physician-assistant program. That virtual visit did not go well. If and when the delayed, staff-less program gets launched, 2U will receive 62.5% of tuition revenue for 15 years, The Chronicle reported. Online Program Managers (OPMs) like 2U are stealth privatizers of nonprofit higher ed, even as they drain dollars from our universities and students. The Government Accountability Office’s mild-mannered May report [pdf] calling on more oversight was followed, earlier this month, by a hard-hitting Wall Street Journal piece (“2U Inc. isn’t a university, but it sometimes looks like one”), so maybe scrutiny of the sleazy sector is picking up. Just in time for 2U’s likely sale to an Indian ed-tech giant. What looks worse than ever is Harvard and MIT’s shameless decision last year to sell edX.  

2022 Open Distance and e-Learning Virtual Conference

“One of the most exciting aspects of research on open distance and e-learning (ODeL) is that there is still so much to be discovered. Despite an exponential increase in research on ODeL worldwide and in South Africa over the past decade, researchers are still not only scratching the surface of the possibilities that beckon in this vital field, but are also grappling with the complexities of ensuring effective teaching and supporting student success and retention. There is vast scope for inquiring minds to set a research agenda in ODeL and generate findings that can help shape people’s futures for the better….”