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iMOOC: A Multiuser Coursera-based Platform to Support International Online Students for U.S. Education

#Twitter: 
#iMOOC101
Presenter(s)
Valeri Chukhlomin (SUNY Empire State College, USA)
Bidhan Chandra (SUNY EMPIRE STATE COLLEGE & CENTER FOR DISTANCE LEARNING, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 1:30pm
Track: 
Open, Global, Mobile
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
All
Session Type: 
Information Session
Location: 
Asia 1
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Session: 
Concurrent Session 7
Abstract

How can international e-learners successfully adapt to American online environments? Learn how a Coursera MOOC is developed/shared by collaborating institutions to support international e-learners.

Extended Abstract

Supported by a generous Innovative Instructional Technologies Grant from the State University of New York (SUNY), our six-week long pilot course "iMOOC: Mastering American eLearning" (https://www.coursera.org/course/imooc) was developed by a team of five faculty members and five professional staff and was successfully delivered during March-May 2015. The first offering of this free course had an enrollment of 4,620 students from 141 countries. A major goal of our presentation is to inform colleagues interested in collaborations to explore further ways of assisting on-campus and off-campus international students and exchange scholars to prepare them for greater success in U.S virtual learning environments.

Currently, many American universities have engaged in developing online programs that are also available - in principle - to global audiences. But as demonstrated by Chukhlomin, Deshpande, Chandra (2013), without sufficient preparation international learners face serious barriers to online learning in U.S. virtual environments; as a result, attrition remains a serious issue for those online offerings. Based on the relevant literature and the experience gained at SUNY Empire State College, we proposed that by using bridging online and video-enhanced courses and a range of supporting online resources U.S. institutions of higher education could better accommodate international e-learners and increase their retention; the same tools can also be used by international, campus-based students or exchange scholars trying to better understand the American educational system and academic culture.

The target audience for using this online course includes the following groups: 1) remotely located, international online learners -coming either in organized cohorts or as individuals; 2) international students enrolled abroad in dual degree partnership programs with SUNY and other American universities; 3) international students preparing for departure to a U.S. school; 4) beginning international students already in U.S. campuses looking for additional support; 5) recent professional immigrants to the U.S. It is anticipated that after having taken this course, international online learners will be significantly better prepared for studying subsequent subject matter through online courses in American universities.

Content-wise, our course is designed to help international students become familiar with and better understand American culture and the academic system, refine critically important skills, learn about the organization and functioning of virtual learning environments in American universities, find out about critically important skills (communications skills, critical thinking, research skills, cross-cultural skills), practice some of the educational technologies and tools widely used in the U.S. (such as electronic libraries, LMS, videoconferencing, e-portfolios, mind mappers, wikis), learn about college expectations and adjust to student-centered pedagogies (timeliness and time management, open discussions and debates, teamwork, and academic integrity).
The video-enhanced course's learning modules have short, self-contained, self-paced learning units based on self-assessment; this will allow learners to access the course anytime from anywhere and take it in a self-paced, self-directed way and also use it as a reference guide and an open educational resource. In addition, there are built-in moderated activities (discussions, graded assignments, video conferences, bilingual corners and other activities); those activities are mostly available for use by supervised groups of students, but some of them may also be open to all categories of course enrollees.

The evidenced based outcomes are obtained as follows. A MOOC potentially offers researchers comprehensive data in the form of digitally archived records of activity and interactions (Waite, Mackness, Roberts & Lovegrove, 2013). During the presentation we will share with participants some results of our pilot study aimed at measuring how the iMOOC has enhanced student learning on American culture and academic system during the first offering of the course. We have attempted to measure how the structure of the iMOOC and the resources and activities within the iMOOC has impacted the motivation of international students to learn. The major constructs to measure included "Structure of the iMOOC", "Resources and activities within the iMOOC" and "Student motivation to learn."

This interactive session will be beneficial to all educators and other stakeholders interested in promoting, facilitating and supporting American online and campus-based education for international audiences. The presenters will share their experiences, including major lessons learned, from the development and delivery of a MOOC course as a result of a cross-campus collaborative project aimed at preparing international online learners to seamlessly navigate and successfully integrate into U.S. online educational environments by providing knowledge and skills about the American culture, American academic system and student-centered pedagogies, and by refining critically important skills and getting familiar with some of the U.S. educational technologies.

The iMOOC course has already attracted a number of national and international partnerships for promoting and running the pilot version. SUNY/Ulster and SUNY/New Paltz, both campuses with ample experience with significant international student bodies, are participating in the project. As developing online orientations for incoming international students has emerged as a new trend nationally and globally, the participating SUNY campuses are exploring potential uses of the newly created iMOOC in accommodating the needs of incoming international students. If the results at the end of the pilot are positive, the lessons learned from this exploration can be further shared with other SUNY and other campuses serving international students.

Our other partners are the Department of State and EducationUSA centers in Jakarta and Hong Kong. In Jakarta, the Education USA center is working with more than 30 learning circles throughout Indonesia to facilitate the iMOOC sessions by on-site real time local mentor support.

The presentation will include a PowerPoint that will be posted on the conference website in advance of the presentation. The slides will also illustrate the needs analysis of international students and the use of student-generated videos sharing their experiences.

References:

Chukhlomin, V., Deshpande, A., & Chandra, B. (2013). Strategies for bridging cross-cultural barriers for international students' success in American asynchronous online degree programs. The South African Journal of Higher Education, 27(6), pp. 1477-1486.

Waite, M., Mackness, J., Roberts, G., & Lovegrove, E.( 2013). Liminal Participants and Skilled Orienteers: Learner Participation in a MOOC for New Lecturers. Merlot Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(2), 200-214.

Lead Presenter

Valeri Chukhlomin is Associate Professor and Academic Area Coordinator of Business, Management and Economics in the Center for Distance Learning at the State University of New York's Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, NY. He teaches capstone courses in marketing and business strategy for undergraduate and graduate students at SUNY ESC. His research interests and areas of expertise include international marketing of education, international partnerships, virtual learning environments, employability skills, and global competencies. Prior to joining SUNY, he worked in Australia and Russia where he held various leadership positions including Dean of International Business School and Vice-President for International and Commercial Affairs at Omsk State University.

Notes: 

For iMOOC related correspondence, please use the following the following e-mail address: iMOOC@esc.edu.