Florida International University Selects CourseSites for MOOCs

Tim Goral's picture

WASHINGTON – March 18, 2013 – Florida International University has selected CourseSites, the free, fully hosted and supported cloud-based learning system, as its platform of choice for running massive open online courses (“MOOCs”), Blackboard Inc. announced today.

The selection of CourseSites was driven in part by a recent decision to bring back Blackboard Learn as the institution’s learning management system.

FIU Online is currently running five self-directed, college-level courses on CourseSites, with plans to add more in the spring. The MOOCs are part of a long-term plan to offer courses that build on the strengths of the university’s faculty and engage FIU’s student population, alumni and others in lifelong learning. The non-credit courses are designed to be completed in about eight hours and offer participants the option to purchase a certificate of completion if they satisfy all course requirements.

University administrators were impressed with CourseSites’ course design flexibility and integrated learning tools including Blackboard’s latest technology for course management, web conferencing and mobile learning. Specifically, FIU wanted to leverage the platform’s wide range of social and collaborative features, including discussion boards, blogs, wikis, and synchronous discussions for MOOCs.

The selection of CourseSites for MOOCs was also fueled by FIU’s recent decision to return to Blackboard Learn, on which CourseSites is based, after two years of using an alternative LMS. After evaluating the two systems, officials determined Blackboard’s integrations, product roadmap, mobile capabilities, and support were superior.

The university will move to the Blackboard Managed Hosting SM service to ensure around-the-clock monitoring of system uptime, and Blackboard Mobile Learn will enable students and faculty to stay engaged with courses on mobile devices. “Like many institutions, we have recently had to make important decisions about our MOOC strategy,” said Joyce Elam, dean of University College, the home of FIU Online. “The question of which system to run our MOOCs on came down to ‘do we choose a platform because it’s in the news? Or do we go with a system that actually offers the framework and tools we need for growth and scalability?’ It became very clear very quickly that Blackboard would best enable us to fulfill our mission of engaging our local and global communities in lifelong learning.”

The courses FIU is currently running on CourseSites are: Applied Real Estate: What You Need to Know about Buying and Selling Residential Real Estate; Entrepreneurship and New Ventures: Giving Students Practical Tools to Help Rapidly Assess the Potential of a New Business Idea; Legal and Ethical Governance: A Roadmap for Florida's Public Officials and Employees and; Project Management Basics (offered in English and Spanish).

“Our MOOCs are designed using best practices in delivering online courses,” said Silvia Gurdian, program manager at FIU and instructor of two courses within the MOOCs offerings.

“It was an obvious choice to work with a partner with the industry experience and expertise to accommodate flexibility in course design.”

FIU faculty joins the nearly 56,000 instructors and half a million users from over 159 countries that have leveraged CourseSites to support online courses since the platform was launched in 2011.

For more information visit CourseSites.