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MOOCs, BerkeleyX, and other online offerings

What kinds of online courses does UC Berkeley offer, and how would I prepare a course for delivery on each?

Type of course Credit? Tuition? Enrollment? “High touch” support and $$ readily available for preparing course? Faculty gets $$ for time?
MOOC (massive open online course) None No 1K-100K No Varies, but usually no
Summer Session UCB transcript credit Yes Yes 10-200 (typical) Yes
UC Berkeley Extension Professional certificates Yes Varies Yes Yes
UC Online Yes Varies Yes Small Yes

(NOTE: UCOE is a program of the UC Office of the President with its own processes and policies. You should contact them directly if you're interested.)

What's a MOOC? How is it different from Berkeley faculty placing their lecture videos and course materials online, from MIT's OpenCourseWare, etc.?

A Massive Open Online Course is a course available to anyone with an Internet connection that goes beyond simply making course materials available online. Its distinguishing features are:

  • Short (7-12 minute) lecture segments on a single topic, rather than 60-90 minute long lectures
  • Each short lecture supplemented with simple self-assessment questions (machine graded) to ensure students understood the lecture material
  • Homeworks and exams that are machine graded, either by using question types built into the EdX MOOC platform or by creating custom autograder programs. ( More info about machine-gradable assessments)
  • Discussion forums monitored by a combination of Berkeley TA's (undergrads OK) and “Community TA's” (usually, volunteers who have already taken and did well in the MOOC version of your course)

In other words, even if you have a mature, well-organized and successful on-campus course, you must do the above steps to create a high quality MOOC. It is a lot of work.

Do students get Berkeley or other campus credit for MOOCs?

MOOCs are non-credit-bearing. EdX students who complete a course will get a certificate signed by the course's instructor(s) and by the co-Directors of BRCOE (currently Armando Fox and Diana Wu). Initially these will be “honor code certificates”, but EdX will be offering proctored exams for courses in the future, and courses that choose this option can issue a “proctored exam certificate”. Details of proctoring are still being worked out. Nonetheless, the certificate is not directly transferable or “negotiable” as course credit at any university.

What kind(s) of certificate(s) can students get for completing a BerkeleyX MOOC?

There is a standard certificate design that was agreed on by the Faculty Advisory Committee of BRCOE, the Steering Committee for Online Education, and EdX. It includes the BerkeleyX and EdX logos, the signature(s) of the instructor(s) who taught the course, and the signatures of the BRCOE directors, Armando Fox and Diana Wu. BerkeleyX instructors may not make changes to the design of the certificate.

The course's instructor decides the formula for whether a student receives a certificate or not. However, there are no gradations of certificates–a student either receives the certificate or doesn't. (That is, there is no “certificate with distinction” or other variation.)

The certificate is referred to as an “honor code certificate”, meaning that its issuance assumes that the student followed the EdX Honor Code in completing the course work. If you would like to offer students in your course the option of taking a proctored midterm and/or final exam, which would allow them to receive a “Proctored Exam Certificate” rather than an “Honor Code Certificate”, please let the MOOC Coordinator know well ahead of time. Students who elect this option will have to pay an extra fee to take a proctored exam at a testing center; EdX takes care of the details. Students who do not elect this option will receive an Honor Code Certificate as usual.

Do students pay to take these courses?

MOOCs are tuition-free, though in the future students may be given the option of paying a fee to take midterm/final exams in a proctored environment (EdX would facilitate this). Courses with higher materials costs may be able to charge a “lab/materials cost” fee; we're working out how to do this.

What is edX, and how does Berkeley's participation in it affect our ability to offer MOOCs?

(If you are already familiar with the BerkeleyX/EdX relationship and want to know what it would take to turn your course into a MOOC, read this next.)

edX is a not-for-profit organization founded by MIT and Harvard through which many universities would eventually be able to offer online education. Berkeley is the first such university to join, is a key launch partner for edX, and will play a leadership role in developing the organization and expanding it to other universities. The edX partnership provides the preferred channel through which Berkeley faculty can offer free, not-for-credit courses to online students, as well as supplement their on-campus for-credit courses using edX technology.

What is BerkeleyX? The “X Universities” collectively are the universities offering courses via EdX. Today the three X Universities are Berkeley, MIT, and Harvard. BerkeleyX is the collective term covering Berkeley's online offerings via the EdX partnership, just as MITX and HarvardX denote the courses that those universities are offering via EdX (seven courses in all across the three institutions starting in September 2012).

What are the key characteristics of BerkeleyX courses that might distinguish them from other MOOCs, such as those offered by Coursera or Udacity?

All edX courses share some characteristics that reflect the shared philosophy and mission of the X Universities:

  • Open course materials offered via a completely open source online platform
  • Great teachers, recognized as such by their respective universities, who are also thought leaders in their fields
  • Intellectual rigor in online courses comparable to the on-campus courses from which they are derived
  • A passion for enhancing the on-campus experience using advanced technologies, rather than focusing solely outward on MOOCs [point to more detailed BerkeleyX documents to be created]

What kind(s) of course(s) can I offer via the BerkeleyX/edX platform?

There are two kinds of BerkeleyX courses:

  • courses are featured on the website. These are highly polished courses visible to the whole world. Currently we can add 2 to 3 new BerkeleyX courses each semester; that growth rate is expected to increase during 2013.
  • edX Edge courses use the same software platform, authoring environment, etc. as BerkeleyX courses, but they may:
    • (a) restrict enrollment at their option (for example, limited to on-campus students enrolled in the corresponding on-campus course, or limited public enrollment to beta-test a new course),
    • (b) represent only a subset of “modules” of course materials rather than a full standalone course. The Edge environment is an ideal place to develop and “debug” courses on their way to becoming BerkeleyX courses.

In practice, we expect most courses will start out on Edge; a subcommittee of the Academic Senate representing innovative, passionate, and highly-recognized instructors from Berkeley's various Schools will develop guidelines for recommending which Edge courses should eventually move to, since we expect demand across many departments. In addition to high course quality and instructor quality, the subcommittee will consider issues of instructor diversity, how the release of a particular course could help on-campus students (courses at root of prerequisite chains, etc.), and whether the course would stimulate innovation in the technology or platform.

Who can create and deploy an Edge course? Any Berkeley faculty. The platform and authoring environment that support this will be deployed about October 15, 2012. It will be the same tools and platform as courses.

How are BerkeleyX courses related to other online initiatives, such as UC Online Education and existing online degree programs such as the Masters in Public Health (MPH) and upcoming Masters in Integrated Circuits (MAS-IC)?

“Internal” courses on EdX Edge “External” courses on EdX Edge; BerkeleyX courses on Certificate Programs UCOE UCB degree programs (MPH, MAS-IC)
Who can enroll Anyone/instructor can decide Anyone Most are open enrollment; some require application and admission Some courses open to all, others UC students only Anyone who applies and is admitted
Tuition/fees Free Free Fees Tuition Tuition
UC Berkeley credit granted? No No Varies Yes, if approved for UCB credit Yes
Scope/length of course equal to residential course? Varies Varies, but typically shorter than on-campus course Varies Yes Varies
Intellectual rigor equal to on-campus course? Yes Yes Varies Yes Yes
UC degree possible? No No No No Yes
Campus residency requirements? None None None None Varies
Students have direct contact with UC faculty/TA's? For “closed” courses (regular office hours) No Varies Yes (virtual office hours) Yes (virtual office hours)
Assessment? Yes, automated and/or manual Yes, automated Yes, proctored final exam Yes, proctored final exam Yes, proctored final exam
Recognition/incentive for faculty participation Department decides Department decides n/a (most courses not taught by UCB faculty) Faculty & Dept receive financial consideration Yes
Synchronous or asynchronous? Sync (follows campus course) Async with ~weekly deadlines Self-paced or fixed date async Sync (?) Varies
Typical retention high 5-10% 80% fixed-date, 60% self-paced ? High

Does the EdX partnership mean that I cannot offer a MOOC through another channel such as Coursera or Udacity?

While individual faculty may make this decision at their discretion, the EdX channel will be the preferred channel for free and open online courses, and all local resource allocation decisions will reflect this fact.

At the Departmental or School level, who has to “sign off” on my decision to offer a MOOC and/or approve the course content?

Your Department Chair must sign off. Any issues related to teaching credit, buy-out, or other consideration for preparing courses is up to your Department Chair.

What steps are involved in adapting an existing on-campus course to MOOC format, what resources do I need, who pays for it, etc.?

Here is a summary with links to additional resources.

How do you detect/control cheating and plagiarism?

In the future, X University courses may be able to request that students complete certain exams or homeworks in a proctored setting, for which the student will likely pay a fee and receive a different kind of certificate. In general, however, X University courses de-emphasize this concern, aiming at self-motivated students who are more interested in learning the material than in earning a specific numerical grade.

If I don't have the resources to do a full course, can I do a subset of a course?

Yes, see Types of Courses for information about creating a “module” using

What MOOCs has Berkeley offered so far?

Two Computer Science courses—CS169 Software Engineering and CS188 Artificial Intelligence—are running now. Both have mature autograding technology developed over multiple iterations of the on-campus course.

Additional courses currently in preparation for Spring 2013:

  • Stat 2B Introduction to statistics and discrete math
  • CS 184 Foundations of computer graphics
  • CS 191 Quantum computation

Several other courses from Biology, Economics and other departments are being planned for Summer or Fall 2013.

MOOCs and On-Campus Classes

What's the relationship between MOOC-related technologies and on-campus classes?

A key goal of the EdX partnership that distinguishes it from private MOOC channels is the desire to explore opportunities for enhancing on-campus courses through novel applications of MOOC-related technologies. Computer Science instructors already have evidence, for example, of how increased automation in grading has freed teaching assistants to spend higher-quality one-on-one time with students. Other factors being equal, EdX is particularly interested in courses whose needs will spur technology innovation that can be reinvested in the on-campus classroom.

What's the relationship between MOOCs and UCOE (the UC Online Education project underway by UCOP)?

UCOE classes are credit-bearing and charge tuition, enroll a small number of students (comparable to on-campus courses), have a heavyweight approval and development process, provide a UCOE-funded stipend for the faculty member preparing the course, and impose some specific licensing rules on how UCOE may use the faculty member's intellectual property (i.e. course content).

MOOCs are non-credit-bearing and tuition-free, may enroll thousands of students, require approval only from your Department chair, do not provide any stipend or other faculty consideration at this time (except as possibly determined by your Chair), and impose no licensing restrictions on your content other than asking that you make it available under a Creative Commons license so that MOOC students can use it royalty-free.

What if I want to do education research on (e.g.) learning outcomes of students who take MOOCs?

This is a key goal of this effort. Email Armando Fox (fox@cs) for details on how to get involved and what datasets are available, and sketch your specific proposal.

Financial issues

What does it cost to prepare and run a MOOC?

The main cost is instructor time. A more detailed MOOC preparation checklist is here, but very roughly:

  • Instructor's time to prepare lectures in suitable format (this is usually necessary even if starting from mature and well-organized lecture material)
  • Instructor's and/or TA's time to create self-check questions to accompany video “lecturelets”
  • Lecture capture:
    • Instructor's time to record all lectures, if recording standalone lectures in an office/studio (there is a minimal investment in hardware and software, and we are working to create pay-as-you-go shared facilities for this purpose as well)
    • Minimal hardware/software costs and paying a student to record live lectures, if doing live capture (typical scenario is to capture both computer screen and live video, then have a student “cut together” the pieces into live video, about an hour of work per hour of lecture; more details here)
    • (Optional) Paying ETS to record live lectures, if doing live capture; this is much more expensive, but less work for you and your TA's since
  • Instructor's/TA's time to create auto-gradable assessments (homeworks, exams, etc.) and author them in EdX Studio software
  • During course: 20-30 hours/week of TA time (OK to hire strong undergrads who know the material) to monitor Q&A forums. After the first MOOC offering, you can usually recruit volunteers from the MOOC cohort to help out with subsequent iterations, reducing the amount of Berkeley student TA time you must pay for.
  • During course: 4-6 hours/week of instructor time to fix bugs in lectures/assessments, ideally record short weekly “greeting to students”, etc.

Will MOOCs generate revenue?

Berkeley and EdX are exploring ways to recoup the development and operating costs of MOOCs, including fees for different kinds of certificates (e.g. proctored exams vs. honor code). However, it is a non-goal of BerkeleyX to be a major revenue generator. The highest priority is neutralizing costs.

Under the EdX financial model, Berkeley pays a fee to EdX for courses on, and keeps 100% of any resulting revenue; we can put courses on EdX Edge for free while they are polished in preparation for deployment.

Where will the money for direct costs come from?

There is no single source of funds, but we are working on various avenues:

  • Some departments may have discretionary money for this. Ask your Chair.
  • Armando Fox or Diana Wu can work with you to identify campus-level funding (e.g. to support innovation in teaching) that may be applicable.
  • Armando Fox or Diana Wu can work with you to identify outside grant agencies (NSF, Gates Foundation, etc.) that may be applicable.
  • In some cases the costs of capture can be underwritten by another effort that will also use the captured material.

We are working on identifying additional funding strategies.

faq.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/28 17:02 (external edit)