MOOC Research Initiative

Though MOOCs have been around for about five years in some limited forms, the past 18 months have been the real emergence of MOOCs in education. Everyone seems to have an opinion about them, but there is less formal research being done on them than many academics would like to see.

Those people may be happy to have read the announcement about the launch of the MOOC Research Initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of a set of investments intended to "explore the potential of MOOCs to extend access to postsecondary credentials through more personalized, more affordable pathways."

Researchers, academics, administrators, learners, and policy makers have plenty of questions as to the effectiveness of the Massive Open Online Course format of teaching and learning. The MOOC Research Initiative (MRI) hopes to fill this research gap by evaluating MOOCs and how they impact teaching, learning, and education in general.

For now, MRI is a $400,000 investment offering grants in the range of $10,000 – $25,000 each. The MRI grant program is led and administered by Athabasca University and George Siemens with support from an advisory committee of experts in learning design and MOOCs.  Although MRI only launched recently, their schedule is aggressive and they want successful grantees (who will be announced by the end August) to begin immediately this fall semester and then give interim reports at a conference at the University of Texas, Arlington on December 5-6, 2013.

Information on MRI, including call for proposals and timelines, is available at:


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