Online Learning Highlights

During the past year, the Center’s Online Teaching and Learning Initiative began a series of pilot projects that implement key recommendations in the University’s Strategic Review of Online Education. The suggested priorities include: promoting access and retention across the curriculum, especially in STEM courses, producing a small private online summer course, creating high­impact MOOCs, and developing the capacity for research in online learning.

Current Projects

FSI 2U – Princeton is bringing the Freshman Scholar Institute (FSI) to students who are unable to attend the summer program on campus. The small private online course will offer students with an opportunity to engage in Ways of Knowing in the humanities and social sciences in readings, writing and online discussions with peers and FSI teaching staff. This online experience will help to prepare incoming students for their transition to academic life at Princeton. Summer 2016.

POL 329: Policy Making in America – Professor Charles Cameron will “flip” ten lectures of this course by moving some material online and developing new interactive mini­case studies and problem sets to replace those lectures. The precepts will be modified to incorporate active exercises to develop specific student skills, and online material will be created to support the precept­based skill exercises. The evaluation of student performance will be revamped using online tools. Fall 2016.

HIS 201: World History Since 1300 – Professor Jeremy Adelman is expanding the reach of his MOOC Global History Lab, in which his History 201 students will also be enrolled. Groups of learners in refugee camps in Jordan and Kenya will participate in Global History Lab, and they will meet in the camps for discussions led by tutors trained by Princeton graduate students. Undergraduates in HIS 201 will exchange their ideas with refugee groups throughout the semester. In addition to bringing the diverse perspectives of worldwide learners into the Princeton classroom, students will engage directly with the global refugee crisis and humanitarian history as they unfold. Fall 2016.

ROCED: Repository for Online Course Environment Data – The McGraw Center is joining forces with the Keller Center for Entrepreneurship and Education Innovation in creating a repository to host data from Princeton’s online and blended courses. This initiative will create the capacity for research that will deepen the understanding of online learning and inform new innovative teaching methods. Fall 2016.

Highlights from Fall 2015 -­ Spring 2016

ONLINE TEACHING INCREASES ACTIVE LEARNING IN AND OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

Over the past academic year, faculty used online learning platforms to deliver course content and reinforce difficult concepts, thereby making time for deeper activity, practice, and collaboration in the classroom.

  • In Cell and Developmental Biology (MOL348), Rebecca Burdine and Danelle Devenport interspersed their classroom lectures with clicker questions and interactive assignments. Instead of teaching in a traditional lecture hall, students were seated in groups to promote collaboration and peer discussions. To prepare students for classroom activities, online videos on edX explained and reinforced difficult concepts; online interactive assignments were also integrated so that students could submit their homework and receive timely feedback from their preceptors. While a number of factors might have contributed to this result, the class average on the midterm exam in 2016 was higher than in previous years.
  • In Mechanics of Solids (CEE205), Sigrid Adriaenssens used the edX platform to supplement, and in some weeks replace, her lectures. In detailed videos, Adriaenssens explained core ideas and walked students through problem sets. In class, Adriaenssens and her students were able to spend more time actively practicing and asking questions.
  • In the McGraw Center's Scholarly Approaches to Teaching, which is a year­long seminar for graduate students and faculty, one of the classes was “flipped” to demonstrate the blended learning experience for participants. Before they came to class, participants watched a lecture on writing an effective teaching statement and responded to a number of key questions about their own teaching. Class time was used to engage with their responses to the questions and to begin developing their teaching statements.

MARIA GARLOCK'S MOOC ON BRIDGES DRAWS A DIVERSE GROUP OF STUDENTS

One of Princeton's most highly rated MOOCs ever wrapped up this Spring! In her course, The Art of Structural Engineering: Bridges (CEE 262), Maria Garlock traced the development of outstanding bridges from the industrial revolution until today. Students from 174 countries and a variety of backgrounds — including homeschooled teenagers, engineering and architecture students, teachers, and retired construction workers, just to mention a few — watched lectures filmed on location, completed weekly, interactive assignments, and participated in creative challenges and discussions.

BOLD: BLENDED AND ONLINE LEARNING DISCUSSIONS

In May, The McGraw Center kicked off the first event in a series of conversations on how face­to­face teaching blended with online learning can increase student success. In this particular discussion, guest speakers from the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, and Princeton discussed innovative projects in STEM courses designed to increase access and retention in gateway courses for underrepresented and underprepared students.

STRATEGIC REVIEW OF ONLINE EDUCATION

As part of the University’s strategic planning process, the Faculty Council on Teaching and Learning published its Strategic Review of Online Education with recommendations for guiding Princeton's approach to online teaching and learning.

CALL FOR NEW ONLINE TEACHING PROJECTS

The McGraw Center's new online course proposal process was created to streamline the process for faculty seeking support to create new or re­designed courses that incorporate online learning environments.

PRINCETON ONLINE

The McGraw Center launched Princeton Online, a new website to publicize Princeton’s MOOCs to the general public. 

PRINCETON JOINS edX CONSORTIUM

Princeton expanded its capacity for online teaching and learning and became a charter member of edX, the online learning platform. Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX seeks to expand access to education and advance innovative teaching through research.

FACULTY REFLECT ON INNOVATIVE TEACHING

The McGraw Center hosted two faculty panels to provide an opportunity for faculty to discuss the successes and challenges of their online projects. Many of these projects were supported with funds from the 250th Anniversary Innovation Fund and are highlighted in the Teaching Ideas Video Gallery.