Develop an Open, Online Course

Open, Online Courses for a World Audience

Since 2012, Princeton has offered about 30 massive, open online courses—so-called MOOCs—to more than 3 million learners in over 190 countries. In addition to our offerings on Coursera, we also have a number of courses on edX and one on Kadenze. These non-­credit course offerings vary widely in topic and length and are typically self-paced, allowing learners to move through the course on their schedule.

The McGraw Center coordinates the design, production, and delivery of online courses offered through Princeton’s partnerships with online course platforms. McGraw staff with pedagogical and technical experts work closely with faculty members to develop course proposals and build materials for use in an online learning environment. The McGraw Center also manages Princeton’s online offerings with platform partners. 

Proposal and Review Process for MOOCs

The McGraw Center will accept proposals from instructors in the ranks of senior lecturer, University lecturer, professor of the practice, assistant professor, associate professor, and professor to create a MOOC. These proposals must be reviewed by and accompanied by an endorsement from the department chair (see below).

The McGraw Center will review proposals and forward a recommendation to a review committee for their decision. The review committee will consist of the Dean of the College, the Deputy Dean of the College, the Dean of the Faculty, the Deputy Dean of the Faculty, and the Provost (or their designees). 

The review process will take into account whether the proposed course is taught at Princeton or has been approved by the Faculty Committee on the Course of Study and will also ensure that the proposal does not represent a violation of the rules against “teaching elsewhere” or “political and public advocacy activities” issued by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty. The review process will give special attention to proposals submitted by instructors who wish to use online material (videos, etc.) developed at another institution or wish to co-teach with an instructor from another institution. 

After approval from the review committee, the McGraw Center will prepare a contract, developed by the Office of General Counsel, for the instructor to sign.

Endorsement by the Chair

When writing their endorsement, department chairs should respond to the following questions:

  1. Field of study: Is the specific proposed course taught regularly at Princeton? Is the subject of the course taught regularly at Princeton? 
  2. Methodology: Does the course draw on human subjects research, and how? 
  3. Risk: Do you see particular risks associated with releasing the course to a global audience? Please keep in mind that open online courses - elements of which participants may engage out of sequence or without context - do not offer the opportunity to immediately address questions that an in-person class has.

Course Retirement or "Refreshing"

We recognize that Princeton’s online courses are one important way the institution presents the quality of its teaching and research to the public. The McGraw Center will review our MOOC offerings annually and make a recommendation to the instructor, the department chair, the Deputy Dean of the College, and the Dean of the College about which courses to retire or refresh. We expect courses to be retired when the instructor leaves Princeton or either retired or refreshed after six years.  

The following questions will be taken into account when making a recommendation: 

  1. Is the instructor still a member of the Princeton faculty?
  2. Does the course appear dated in terms of delivery method, research method, content, or topic?  
  3. Does the course still have substantial engagement based on enrollment numbers, progress funnel, and completion rate? 
  4. Is the instructor willing to engage with the course and make updates when necessary? 
  5. Does the instructor have a preference for continuing or retiring the course?

How to Get Started

To get started with a fully online course, please get in touch with Mona Fixdal, Senior Associate Director for Blended and Online Learning, or Katherine Stanton, Director for the McGraw Center.