Projects Underway

Designing Innovative Online Learning: Integrating a Coursera MOOC with Open SUNY Badging

Trudi Jacobson & Tom Mackey

Project Team
  • Michele Forte, SUNY Empire State College
  • Kathleen Stone, Empire State College
  • Amy L. McQuigge, SUNY Empire State College
  • Jenna Hecker, University at Albany
  • Kelsey O’Brien, University at Albany

Albany, University at


Tier Three

Project Abstract:

This project, led by Principal Investigators Trudi Jacobson and Tom Mackey, ex-pands the SUNY-wide Metaliteracy Learning Collaborative to develop a Coursera MOOC on metaliteracy that integrates with our existing Open SUNY badging system. The MOOC will be developed in the Coursera online platform and open to any SUNY student. Students will not only earn one credit from the University at Albany or Empire State College for the 6-week course, they will also earn digital badges by completing quests and challenges developed by faculty in the form of online as-signments in the WordPress-based badging system. The MOOC will integrate these badge assignments into content modules about metaliteracy topics.

The combination of technologies will provide an innovative student-centered plat-form that promotes collaborative online learning and serves as a resource for in-structors. The MOOC will incorporate high-end videos to illustrate the central components of metaliteracy, including the abilities to effectively consume, produce, and share information, and to critically engage, collaborate, and participate in online communities. Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) enables the integration of the badging system with the MOOC. As Open SUNY expands the online opportu-nities for our learners across the system, metaliteracy is the innovative framework to equip students with the 21st century competencies they will need to be success-ful in the ever-changing and expanding online settings. This initiative will also sup-port future iterations of the SUNY-wide Information Management General Educa-tion requirement by providing a model based on metaliteracy competencies.

The outcomes of this IITG project will include:

1. Develop a Coursera Metaliteracy MOOC with high-end video to support key concepts
2. Integrate the existing Open SUNY Badging System with Coursera MOOC us-ing LTI
3. Expand the metaliteracy knowledge and abilities of students who complete the MOOC and earn metaliteracy badges
4. Provide a community of support for other SUNY faculty to develop Open SUNY badging initiatives
5. Facilitate conversations with SUNY stakeholders about the revision of cur-rent Information Management General Education Requirement

Members of the Metaliteracy Learning Collaborative exceeded the goals of our 2012 IIT grant, moving from exploration of badging’s potential to actual development. We created the badge framework and several initial quests. Subsequently, we have written the learning content for additional quests and challenges, and have been testing this platform with students. This past year the Provost at the Universi-ty at Albany provided $27,000 to enable the University Libraries Information Liter-acy Department to continue developing the badging project (please see the De-scription and Status Report for details). An exciting element of this adaptation is student involvement in creating badge content.

The Association of College & Research Libraries is incorporating metaliteracy, along with threshold concepts, into their new information literacy framework. This MOOC will be on the cutting edge of the field, not only because of its open, adaptable format, but also because it includes elements of these new national guidelines, which are certain to inform conversations within SUNY about the Gen-eral Education Information Management competency. The change from the existing standards to this framework is radical, and it will take time for institutions to adapt their programs. SUNY will have the distinction of being prepared when the frame-work goes into effect.

This project will also promote and support other educational trends, from the flipped classroom to educational gaming to competency-based instruction. It brings together the strengths of badging, which is a highly motivating way to learn, with the convenience of a MOOC. Coursera’s ability to gather data and provide ana-lytics will be critical in determining the strengths of this manner of learning, and will inform our outreach to others within SUNY who are exploring the idea of badges. We will begin building a community around badging on the SUNY Learning Commons. SUNY colleagues have expressed interest in developing badges for Pri-or Learning Assessment (PLA), experiential learning, and other innovative educa-tional models that support Open SUNY. In addition, we are providing a flexible re-source that can be used by SUNY librarians and faculty members as they identify specific learning needs for their students—a ready made “suite” of resources.

We will be able to sustain the key elements of this project after the year of funding. Once the videos and other course material have been produced for the MOOC, they will be available as a package for use as a course, as well as individual components, as needed by different SUNY schools with different requirements. We will be build-ing a community that will be able to contribute new content and revise existing ma-terials. Lastly, we will begin a larger conversation about badging that will be open to faculty and staff across SUNY who have an interest in the topic.

Project Outcome:

Two very successful MOOCs were launched on 1) Canvas and 2) Coursera. Robust outcomes are available detailing the faculty and learner experience integrating badges into MOOC platforms.