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Overview: Creating a MOOC or SPOC (Small Private Online Course)

Before you start, you should “enroll” in an EdX MOOC to understand the student experience of taking such courses, since you'll be preparing your materials to match that experience. Go to and enroll for one or more courses, watch a few video segments, and try out some assessments.

You should then be in a good position to request access to EdX Studio and take the self-service "EdX 101" course that walks you through how to create and deploy a course using EdX Studio.

Adapting a polished, mature on-campus course for EdX delivery involves the following.

  1. Determine course scope and length. Shorter courses (3-7 weeks) seem to work better, so consider splitting up your on-campus course into self-contained sub-courses. An online course is organized into units; typically 1 unit can be completed in 1 week, and includes some combination of lectures, readings, homework assignment deadlines, and quizzes/exams.
    • Tip: You can also choose to create a module, which is a self-contained subset of a course that can be either publicly-available or limited access, and build your way up to a full course.
  2. Structure your lectures as self-contained segments of about 5-12 minutes of lecture delivery time. It's helpful for each segment to be accompanied by one or more interactive activities, such as graded or ungraded (self-check) questions, discussion, etc. EdX 101 (see two short-answer self-assessment questions (see Short-Answer Autograders below).
    • Tip: If you plan to deliver your lectures live rather than separately pre-recording, you can use these questions for peer instruction by giving out inexpensive colored flash cards.
  3. If you use copyrighted imagery or content in your lectures, you will need to ensure that you have the permission of the copyright owner or that your use of the materials is otherwise covered by Fair Use. (A pointer to more detailed information and how-to is coming soon.)
  4. Lecture capture. Arrange for screencast and/or video capture and postproduction of your live lectures, or if you are planning on pre-recording lectures before the course begins, identify the resources and arrangements you'll make.
  5. Autograding. Determine what kinds of machine-gradable and human-gradable assessments you will use. EdX 101 gives an overview of the options. (It's also possible to create standalone sophisticated autograders to handle arbitrary assignment types that aren't built into EdX. Ask Armando Fox if you are curious about this. Documentation pointer coming soon.)
  6. MOOC TA. Identify a teaching assistant to monitor the forums and otherwise keep an eye on the course. The first time you offer the course, expect to require 20-30 hours per week of TA time just for the MOOC (i.e., in addition to any TA resources for your concurrent on-campus course).
    • Tip: We have found that strong undergraduates who have mastered the course content do fine in this role. On subsequent MOOC offerings, you can recruit volunteers from the current cohort to help do this job for future cohorts - see below.
  7. Prerequisites and materials. Prepare a description of the course, including length of course, prerequisites, required books or other materials, and (important) approximate hours per week students should expect to spend.
    • Tip: For open-access courses, it's useful if the required material(s) are free or low cost, or if free or low-cost alternatives are available.

You can work with Sean McMahon to create a timeline. The most time-consuming aspect for most of us is video production; here are some possible approaches.

Other Tutorials, Best Practices, etc.

  • This blog by 10gen, a technology company with whom EdX partners, gives their best practices for creating internal MOOCs for their employees.
adapting_an_existing_on-campus_course_for_berkeleyx.1378248269.txt.gz · Last modified: 2018/02/28 17:02 (external edit)