Sunday, December 9, 2012

NSF Award > RAPID: Understanding and Designing Community Dynamics in a Massively Open Online Course Platform, the Peer 2 Peer University

Office of CyberInfrastructure
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Initial Amendment Date:September 12, 2012
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Latest Amendment Date:September 12, 2012
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Award Number:1257347
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Award Instrument:Standard Grant
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Program Manager:Mark Suchman
OCI Office of CyberInfrastructure
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Start Date:October 1, 2012
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Expires:September 30, 2013 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date:$178,806.00
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Investigator(s):Brian Butler (Principal Investigator)
June Ahn (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor:University of Maryland College Park
COLLEGE PARK, MD 20742-5141  (301)405-6269
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NSF Program(s):CI-TEAM
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Program Reference Code(s):7914
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Program Element Code(s):7477


In this project, the researchers will collaborate with one of the foremost open education platforms, the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU), to study how online cyberinfrastructure can be designed, implemented, and analyzed to foster educational experiences at a massive scale. With the rise of massively-open online course platforms (MOOCs), there is a great need to understand how these infrastructure technologies can be used to facilitate open education at scale. Specifically, this project involves (1) implementing and conducting design experiments on the P2PU platform, to generate new knowledge about how to improve cyberinfrastructures for open learning; (2) collecting and analyzing data from the P2PU platform to contribute foundational knowledge of open learning dynamics and the issues open learning communities face; and (3) working with P2PU to create and share publicly available datasets, practices, and standards that will spur wider big-data driven research on cyberinfrastructures for learning and education.

Enabled by new cyber-infrastructure technologies, a rapidly developing family of "massively open online courses" (MOOCs) hold the potential to make interactive educational experiences available at massive scale. At the same time, researchers, educators, and policy makers are increasingly interested in the potential for big-data driven learning-analytics, to transform how educational experiences are designed, deployed and evaluated. Together, these trends present several cyberinfrastructure challenges that will be explored in this project:

-- How should MOOC platforms be designed, deployed and evaluated? What design features support appropriate types of learner engagement? How do features, such as badges and group recommendations, facilitate meaningful involvement?

-- How can developing MOOC platforms be used to meet the growing needs for cyberinfrastructure skills education and workforce development? Do MOOCs provide a suitable platform for building the technical, managerial, and scientific skills necessary to use and support emerging cyberinfrastructures?

-- What cyberinfrastructure is needed to support high-impact, data-driven learning-analytics research? What data standards and practices are necessary to support studies of open communities for education and learning?

MOOC platforms have significant potential to increase the accessibility of STEM training, and of education more generally. Understanding open platforms such as P2PU also has the potential to broaden the population of individuals and institutions that can participate in the creation and design of open education experiences. This project will help us better to understand a rapidly emerging, highly disruptive example of cyberinfrastructure (MOOC platforms). The project will thus contribute to multiple research agendas in such fields as: computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL); human-computer interaction (HCI); virtual and online communities; and, more generally, information systems, and organization science. The measures, standards, and practices pioneered in this project will also significantly accelerate the development of data-driven research and learning-analytics techniques suitable for the design, management, evaluation and improvement of the nation's growing educational cyber-infrastructure.



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