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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The TIEs (and TIPs) That Bind: Fostering Massive Open Online Communities | EDUCAUSE Review

Key Takeaways
  • Two University of Wisconsin–Madison MOOCs added in-person activities to supplement the online experience and reach statewide audiences.
  • These targeted interactive events and targeted interactive partnerships reached beyond MOOC participants to reach local communities where the events occurred.
  • Evidence showed that participation in either type of event improved appreciation of the learning experience and strengthened the feeling of connection with the university. 

"Supplemental in-person activities added to University of Wisconsin–Madison MOOCs in 2015 improved participant appreciation of the learning experience and feeling of connection with the university." according to Jeffrey Russell, vice provost for Lifelong Learning and dean, Division of Continuing Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Linda Jorn, assistant vice provost for Learning Technologies and director of Division of Information Technology, Academic Technology, Joshua Morrill, senior evaluator, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Lika Balenovich, project manager, Educational Innovation, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Terry Ross, project manager, Division of Continuing Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison and Mary Thompson, assistant dean, Division of Continuing Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison.   

Tromping the Wisconsin backcountry with a group of beginning hunters, rifle in hand and snow in your boots, is not the typical massive open online course (MOOC) experience — unless you took a MOOC from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2015. (See "MOOCs for Wisconsin and the World" in this publication, March 2, 2015.) In-person activities supplemented the online experience: targeted interactive events (TIEs) and targeted interactive partnerships (TIPs). This article explores the lessons we learned, both positive and negative, and how we engaged our supporters to build dedicated communities of learners using both the TIE and TIP models. 

The first MOOC, "The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold, and Conservation," featured two major events. "From Hunt to Harvest," a two-day event, gave 26 beginning hunters a crash course in handling and shooting rifles. Accompanied by mentors and dog-handlers, they roamed the Pine Island Wildlife Area in search of pheasant on the first day. The second day included a hands-on deer butchering workshop ; a cooking demonstration  with a hosted lunch featuring local foods and wild game; "flashtalks" by wildlife and ecology experts; a hunting/outdoors-related fair; dog training workshops; and guided tours of Aldo Leopold's hunting shack. 

MOOC event "From Hunt to Harvest" connected hunting and conservation  

In the second major event for "The Land Ethic Reclaimed," Steve Rinella, a television personality and author of Meat Eater, came to campus for two appearances: an intimate talk with invited guests and a larger public lecture followed by a meet-and-greet with Wisconsin fans. 

For the "Climate Change Policy and Public Health" MOOC, a New York Times journalist hosted a well-attended panel of experts at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Chicago. This event brought together key thinkers involved in major climate change and public health initiatives to advance the topic among healthcare professionals.

Some of the lessons we learned from holding these face-to-face events1 included:
  • Dedicated staff with expertise in outreach were critical to planning and running successful community engagements.
  • Outreach staff observed that participants were especially enthusiastic when presented with activities that allowed them to directly engage with university faculty and staff.
  • Events that had a partner closely involved in planning and marketing the event were more successful in reaching and engaging local populations.

Source: EDUCAUSE Review and UW-Madison Continuing Studies Channel (YouTube)

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