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LRC Works Behind the Scenes of the College's First MOOC Offering


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The College of Pharmacy offered its first massive open online course (MOOC) in September 2013. The work to prepare the course, however, started long before then.  Dr. Janet Walkow, clinical associate professor of pharmaceutics and executive director of the college's Drug Dynamics Institute, spearheaded the project to build a course which she titled "Take Your Medicine - The Impact of Drug Development. 

A great deal of preliminary work went into the development of the course.  For example, requests for grants to pay for the course were written, course content was designed and organized into modules, faculty were recruited to teach the modules, and many technical decisions were made about how the content would be recorded, and how the modules would be released to the public.

The technical requirements of the project brought in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) team, under the directorship of Kamran Ziai.  Members of the team worked behind the scenes to enable most of the technological and even some of the artistic elements that were essential to making this course a reality. 

John Reineke, the team's video instructional technology professional, was the primary support person for the project.  He applied his knowledge of video recording and editing and plenty of research to put together a small recording studio--complete with lighting, digital camera, editing system and green-screen background to record digital video of instructors teaching.   

Reineke worked with Walkow and her team to develop a vigorous recording and detailed editing schedule.  Each day of recording involved not only capturing video, but also careful implementation of a system Reineke developed for organizing the content into "dailies" --the camera recordings from that day by presenter.  Low resolutions versions of the video were moved into UT Box so that Walkow and Dr Donna Kidwell, a former UT faculty member who served as MOOC designer and content specialist, could review the content and identify what to keep, what learning modules the content belonged in, what slides or other graphics were needed, and in what order information should be presented. 

Rough-cuts of video were created from instructions which were documented in the system Reineke developed.  These were processed again into a cleaner cut, where slides and graphics were added that supported the content.  Kidwell edited the slides submitted by instructors to assure consistency in style and to provide visual representations that would clarify complex concepts.  Kidwell  turned to the LRC team for help in creating additional slides and graphics as needed.

Belinda Lehmkuhle, of the LRC's Instructional Technology Development Lab, provided graphics support.  Her work involved interpreting Kidwell's verbal description of particular concepts into digital images and, in some cases, polishing existing images for inclusion in the slide set.

Two teaching assistants assisted with many of the logistics of putting the course together. Scott Akers, a master’s student at McComb’s School of Business, managed the video placement into the actual MOOC after Reineke uploaded the final video to YouTube.  Akers also managed all of the closed captioning transcription process created using a third party service.

Siyuan Huang, a graduate research assistant at the College of Pharmacy, used his knowledge of pharmaceuticals to provide insight into what graphics would support the subject matter and confirm terminology. Both Akers and Huang served as support for discussion boards and forums in the course.

Once graphics and slides were added, the editing and approval cycle began again.  Careful cataloging of files and precise record keeping helped keep the production process on schedule.

The LRC's participation in this project was in some ways beyond its usual scope.  However, the project was taken on in response to a need to support a growing faculty interest to transforming courses through leveraging technology and new trends in teaching pedagogy.

Grant funding received for the project made it possible to purchase equipment needed for this and other projects including a digital video camera, an editing computer, lighting equipment, and backgrounds. 

The digital camera purchased for the project has already been used for recording conference presentations offered by the Office of Continuing Pharmacy Education. 

Participation in the mooc permitted LRC staff to hone skills that will be valuable for future course transformations.    The knowledge and experienced gained by the LRC staff as they worked out all the technical issues has set the groundwork for utilizing this specializled expertise in future projects within the college.

Read more about the Take Your Medicine MOOC here.
 


Last Reviewed: November 13, 2013

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