This book was created as a publication for the LINK Research Lab at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). The initial goal was to provide a resource for the faculty at UTA and many other institutions to utilize as they designed MOOCs and other online courses for LINK Research Lab programs – as well as for other departments and programs. In the spirit of openness and collaboration, that goal was expanded into making this book as general and context-independent as possible. Where specific needs for unique contexts were needed (for example, how to assess learners in a MOOC that might have thousands of learners), we have noted the specific contexts where they are most applicable. We also invited a wide range of authors and reviewers from different contexts and countries to add as many viewpoints as possible. However, we know that we are still falling short in many areas. If you see something you would like to add, improve, or expand, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We would like to continually update this book with new, expanded editions in the future.
The first version of this book was more of a brief guide to dictate how instructors would create MOOCs for the LINK Research Lab at UTA. After the lead author wrote the initial handbook, additional LINK Lab personnel were brought in to add more sections. At the suggestion of George Siemens, we decided to expand the UTA MOOC Handbook to include all forms of online course design in as many contexts as we could cover (the original guide being focused entirely on public 4-year universities). This began the process of recruiting other authors and contributors- first from within UTA, and then from experts around the world. When the guide expanded to a book, the content was divided into chapters. However, the typical model of “one author writes one chapter” didn’t fit the best flow of the content. Therefore, we decided to move away from that model by allowing authors to contribute as much as they wanted – be it a chapter, a section, or a paragraph. Many people were invited, but we really only scratched the surface of those that we wanted to reach out to. Hopefully in the next edition we will get more of that list added. Also, we began to specifically reach out to people from different states, countries, and contexts from UTA to review the book for places we missed important contextual information. These reviewers gave us incredible feedback that improved the book immensely. The only regret was, again, time restraints, as we would have liked to invite so many more to review. Again, that will hopefully be improved upon in the next edition.
“Online learning experiences” is a broad term that covers a large number of contexts and possibilities. Not all ideas and processes covered in this book are going to work in every learning context. We encourage you to evaluate each idea presented against your specific needs and only use those that will work for you (but also, feel free to remix as needed). Additionally, please note that while those who are new to creating online courses might want to read the chapters in order, we tried our best to also design the flow so that you can move around the text in a non-linear fashion as well. Our goal with the structure was to have a flow that works for those that read the chapters in order, while giving the various sections and chapters a sense of independence for those that want to pick and choose (or for those that use this book more as a reference). If you find something we missed in this goal, please let us know.
Matt Crosslin is currently a learning innovation researcher with the UTA LINK Research Lab. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, games in learning, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.
The Lead Author wishes to first thank George Siemens, Laurel Mayo, Lisa Berry, and Justin T. Dellinger – directors past and present at the LINK Research Lab that mentored this project, gave me the go-ahead to do it in the first place, and continue to push the boundaries of learning research. This book also wouldn’t have reached publication without Michelle Reed of the UTA Libraries opening doors for it – thank you for answering my questions and fixing many things I got wrong (I promise no “s” on OER ever again). Thank you also to the authors, editors, and reviewers listed below – your time and contributions really took this book to the next level. Thank you for the awesome work – there was not a single “Reviewer #2” in the whole lot! To my current and former co-workers, colleagues, conference co-conspirators, faithful instigators on Twitter, consistent or occasional blog readers, and all the academics and professionals out there I follow (many I have never met in person) – thank you for providing deep insight and inspirational thoughts along our journey. You didn’t know that I was taking notes to make a book did you? I hope I did your ideas justice where I reference them here. If not – then come fix it in the 2nd edition! To my instructors at the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Brownsville, and Baylor University – thank you for imparting to me a passion for education. Hopefully you see a lot of what you taught me in these pages. Of course, thank you to my Mom, Dad, and Brother for your love, support, and encouragement for my whole life. And finally, but most importantly, thank you to my wife Katie and son Riley – you both constantly inspire me to be a better person and care more about the world around us. I’m a lucky man to be around your support, love, and laughter every day!
Matt Crosslin, Ph.D. – Researcher, Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab, University of Texas at Arlington
Thomas Perappadan, UTA Libraries’ OER Publishing Assistant, for assisting in the publication of this resource, and Kyle Pinkos, UTA Libraries’ Marketing Coordinator, for designing the cover.
Creation of this resource was supported by Mavs Open Press, operated by the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries (UTA Libraries). Mavs Open Press offers no-cost services for UTA faculty, staff, and students who wish to openly publish their scholarship. The Libraries’ program provides human and technological resources that empower our communities to publish new open access journals, to convert traditional print journals to open access publications, and to create or adapt open educational resources (OER). Resources published by Mavs Open Press are openly licensed using Creative Commons licenses and are offered in various e-book formats free of charge. Optional print copies may be available through the UTA Bookstore or can be purchased through print-on-demand services, such as Lulu.com.
Information about open education at UTA is available online. If you are an instructor who is using this OER for a course, please let us know by filling out our OER Adoption Form. Contact us at email@example.com for other inquires related to UTA Libraries publishing services.