Propose a MOOC


After five years, UMD has become a leader in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) with some of the highest enrollments of courses offered by Coursera. Two of UMD's courses reached the Top 10 MOOCs of all time by enrollment - a rare feat for any single University (Top 50 Most Popular MOOCs of All Time). We have developed over 40 courses with specializations in cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, survey data analytics, mobile programming, and resume writing and job interviewing in english for non-native speakers. These MOOCs have provided unprecedented exposure to UMD expertise, with more than 2 million registered students. If you would like to see all of the courses offered, click here.

UMD's MOOC program goals drive positive experiences for learners worldwide to experience quality offerings by our instructors.

UMD's courses have received many positive reviews. Learners from around the world have thanked course instructors for helping them to reach their learning objectives. One student left the workforce a decade ago to start a family. Recently, she claimed that UMD's Cybersecurity courses helped her to re-enter the workforce through obtaining a job in the field.

These courses are engaging our faculty in creative use of technology, not only to scale up student learning, but also to analyze teaching methods and resulting learning outcomes to improve course materials and pedagogy. These improvements in teaching methods and materials are then being used by our instructors in our for-credit classes. When the classroom is "flipped", some of the content is learned outside of class with MOOC material, and class time can then be used for more active, engaging and challenging work. The result is that MOOCs are improving our face-to-face classes.

While most students take the MOOCs for free, they also have the option of paying a small fee for the full course experience including assessments and, in some cases, a MOOC certificate. A good chunk of those fees comes back to UMD to run the MOOC program and to support the instructors in developing and running the courses. Finally, we are also finding success in converting students who take our MOOCs to become paying UMD students, especially for our online professional graduate programs.

We offer continuous opportunities campus-wide to develop new MOOCs. We plan on adding approximately four new courses annually funded by the Provost’s Office with the goal of expanding the successes described above. All full-time campus faculty are eligible to apply.

There are numerous resources available to understand the process of creating a MOOC. If you would like more information about what it takes to develop a course using the Coursera platform, see the Proposal Details below, contact our existing MOOC instructors, or contact the program manager, Bill Aarhus, at

In addition, the University System of Maryland has joined edX, another MOOC platform. edX courses may be proposed for consideration. The University's edX agreement with the System is pending, however, the process and expectations are similar to those outlined below. We expect that University of Maryland submissions for edX will be entertained in the current academic year, and the discussion of a potential course proposal may begin at your convenience by contacting Bill Aarhus, the program manager, at

Proposal Details

Deadline: None. Rolling proposals throughout the year.

Eligibility: UMD Faculty.

As described in general below, the proposal requires detailed information about the proposed course including syllabus, market, your capabilities, sample video, and expected campus impact including how the materials will be used on campus, and how MOOC students might be "converted" to paying UMD students.

While you will be provided with both financial and personal support in the development of your course, our expectations are high. Furthermore, the development of the course will have to be partially developed before being publicly announced, and it will have to be substantially completed (including videos and assessments) before the course is launched. Courses should be designed to run for approximately 4-6 weeks.

The courses developed are not offered for academic credit, and faculty will not be given teaching release time. For courses that are selected, the Provost’s office will provide funding (up to $10K) and services to support their development and continued offering, however, the funds may not be used for teaching release or salary overload (summer salary is ok). In addition. a portion of revenue generated from the course will be shared back with the instructor and the instructor's units per the approved guidelines.

The MOOC Advisory Committee, comprised of UMD Faculty and Staff to guide the program, will help to select among the proposed courses. Courses will be selected according to the following criteria, weighted equally:

  • Enhance UMD's reputation: Courses must help the public perceive our excellence – which can be made apparent through a range of course characteristics. Offerings that are likely to appeal to a broad set of students, demonstrate UMD's breadth, excellence in pedagogy and clarity of communication and course structure are all important. But so are engagement, fairness of assessments, and relevant and engaging course material.
  • Enhance UMD courses: Instructors that have a plan for enhancing their UMD courses (face to face or online) through the use of the MOOC content or analyses will be more highly ranked.
  • Student recruitment: We want to bring students to our UMD online and campus programs. MOOCs that are natural entry points to our paying programs, and proposals that have specific plans for recruiting those students will be more highly ranked.
  • Be able to run course successfully: Creating and running a successful MOOC requires a significant commitment. These courses require substantially more than recording video lectures. Rather, the material must be broken down into small segments with integrated quizzes and assessments that can be graded automatically (or by peers) with potentially tens of thousands of students. The instructor must have some experience creating video, and be comfortable with video and online learning technologies.
  • Measurable learning outcomes: MOOCs must have clear learning outcomes and corresponding assessments that monitor student achievements of learning outcomes.

The following additional characteristics are desirable but not required:

  • Course material that will be re-used in UMD for-credit courses (whether face-to-face or online).
  • Efforts that include research in online learning.
  • Innovation in course offering: As MOOCs are continuing to rapidly evolve, it is important that UMD participates in not only delivering online courses, but also in helping to lead in the creation of new ways of offering courses. Thus innovation in any aspect of a course offering is appreciated – whether it is related to how the course is structured, assessments are designed, how communities are developed, etc.

Submission Process

The following information will be required for your proposal. A sample proposal explains what kind of information we are looking for. 

  • Name and Email of submitter
  • Instructor name(s) 
  • Proposed launch date
  • Requested production advance ($), if any
  • Proposed title and topic area
  • Target audience, learner persona, and learning outcomes
  • Sample job roles requiring these skills (required only for business, technology, and data proposals)
  • Final project deliverable (required for Specialization proposals)
  • An explanation of how you address the selection criteria above
  • Your background: Briefly explain your background and why you will be good at creating and delivering a UMD MOOC
  • Chair approval
  • A sample course segment. This must include a 4-7 minute video on any topic within the course along with sample automatically graded quiz(zes) that would be embedded in or connected to the video. For the purposes of this proposal, the quiz can simply be plain text. You do not need to actually create the interactive quiz or grading mechanism, but you should consider what kind of quizzes would be suitable for this context. Technical support will be provided for creating this video upon request by emailing, as will coordination to deliver the video file. 
  • A detailed course plan including a weekly schedule, readings, and types of assessments. If you expect to use any copyrighted materials, please indicate the approximate quantity and type to help us estimate costs in acquiring a license to that material (note that “fair use” does not apply to MOOCs). An example plan can be found from one of UMD’s existing courses at However, please note that we would like more detailed information about the kinds of assessments you are planning on offering as well as information about copyrighted material.
  • A description of what resources and support you would require in order to create the course.
  • Responses to any additional questions from the selection committee in response to the pre-proposal.
  • Dean approval – please have your Dean separately email Program Manager Bill Aarhus at approving your course.

In addition, your department (or unit) head must separately email Program Manager Bill Aarhus with approval of your course at Please refer any proposal-related questions to Bill Aarhus.

Submit your proposal by sending it to Bill Aarhus at

You will be kept apprised of your course's proposal status at each approval step, and be asked to address any questions as they arise. Please note that proposal consideration may take up to several weeks from the time it is formally submitted.