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.
How to Approach this Book
“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.
About the Lead Author
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.