August 22, 2011

MOOC Launched at SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College President Alan R. Davis today announced that the college is offering its first massive open online course, or MOOC, this fall.

40th Anniversary Logo

SUNY Empire State College President Alan R. Davis today announced that the college is offering its first massive open online course, or MOOC, this fall.

“MOOCs are an example of open learning at its best,” said Davis. “With MOOCs, it is the process of networking and making connections with others, which leads to communication, learning and then to greater knowledge and understanding.”

Free and open to anyone, anywhere in the world, with interest, a computer and an Internet connection, the MOOC’s formal title is “Creativity and Multicultural Communication,” and the short-form name is CMC11.

The starting point for CMC11 is a Web page. From there, participants can choose any number of social media tools, such as Twitter, Facebook, Second Life, as well as individual blogs and email, to establish personal learning networks.

Registration is accomplished by completing an online form.

Dr. Betty Lawrence, interim associate dean at the college’s Center for Distance Learning, and CDL instructor Carol Yeager are facilitating the MOOC.

“The experience of the open learning environment provided by a MOOC is an example of SUNY Empire State College moving toward a vision as New York’s open university,” said Lawrence.


The course will run for 13 weeks. For those interested in taking the course for college credit, the course runs for 15 weeks and undergraduate tuition rates will apply.
“A MOOC is far more than a content delivery system. Although there are usually weekly presentations and suggested readings, the soul of the MOOC is in the interactions that emerge and flow throughout its learning environment. These exist through the integration of multiple technologies such as the course blog, Twitter feeds, individual blogs, Facebook groups, Moodle discussions and Second Life meetings,” said Lawrence.

The topic of creativity and multicultural communication emerged from the shared experiences of Lawrence and Yeager.

The facilitators describe how the course works, writing, “CMC11 is an unusual course. It does not consist of a body of content you are supposed to remember. Rather, the learning in the course results from the activities you undertake, and will be different for each person.

“In addition, this course is not conducted in a single place or environment. It is distributed across the Web. We will provide some facilities and presentations on various topics. And we expect your activities to take place all over the Internet. We will ask you to visit other people’s Web pages, and even to create some of your own.”

MOOCs have been in existence for four years, facilitated at other institutions by George Siemens, CDL’s conference keynote speaker in 2009, and Stephen Downes, the keynoter at the 2011 conference.

The MOOC currently offered at the University of Illinois at Springfield, “Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow,” is being facilitated by Ray Shroeder, CDL’s keynoter in 2010.

Both Siemens and Downes have agreed to be presenters for this MOOC in discussions of connectivism and personal learning environments/networked knowledge, as these theories will form the foundation for the MOOC learners.

Dr. Tom Mackey, interim dean at CDL, will discuss the metaliteracy framework he developed with Trudi E. Jacobson at the University at Albany, as well as transliteracy and how these concepts connect with digital learning and communication.

Sessions are planned to address deliberate creative problem-solving concepts and the role of creativity in learning, and to provide specific examples of applications and projects that exhibit creativity in multicultural environments.

About Betty Lawrence

Lawrence has been teaching and mentoring at the college for more than 30 years. Recently, she has been involved in the HP Catalyst Grant initiative and is an active participant in the HP Multiversity Group facilitated by the Sloan Consortium.

She has served primarily as a mentor/coordinator in the area of mathematics and has facilitated the development of more than 20 online math courses. Her research interests center on the facilitation and assessment of mathematics learning online.

About Carol Yeager

Yeager, with more than 20 years of service to the college, recently completed a second master’s degree in creativity and change leadership through the ICSC (International Center for Studies in Creativity) program at Buffalo State College.

She has been offering studies in creativity at the college’s Metropolitan Center in New York City and the Center for Distance Learning, and has facilitated sessions in creative problem solving for several large organizations, including the Nassau County Library Association and Johnson & Johnson.

About SUNY Empire State College

Celebrating its 40th anniversary throughout 2011, SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York. Students learn through independent studies, online courses, seminars and residencies. Learners also may earn credit for prior college-level learning from work and life experience.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at 35 locations in New York state and online. Its 63,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, not-for-profit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

For additional information, visit www.esc.edu. For more on the 40th anniversary, please follow this link.