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Florida International University selects hosted online learning platform for MOOCs

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Florida International University (FIU) has implemented an online learning platform to offer its own massive open online courses (MOOCs). The university is currently offering five such courses and plans to add more in the spring.

The university chose CourseSites from Blackboard as its platform for the online courses because of the platform’s course design flexibility, integrated learning tools, and social and collaborative features. CourseSites offers course management, Web conferencing, and mobile learning tools, as well as discussion boards, blogs, wikis, and synchronous discussions for interaction between course participants and instructors.

Another primary factor behind the selection was the university’s recent decision to return to the Blackboard Learn learning management system (LMS) after using an alternative LMS for two years. CourseSites is based on Blackboard Learn.

FIU decided to switch back to Blackboard Learn because of its integrations, product roadmap, mobile capabilities, and support. The university is using the Blackboard Managed Hosting service to ensure the system is available at all times and Blackboard Mobile to provide students and faculty with access to the system through their mobile devices.

“Like many institutions, we have recently had to make important decisions about our MOOC strategy,” said Joyce Elam, dean of University College, the home of FIU Online, in a prepared statement. “It became very clear very quickly that Blackboard would best enable us to fulfill our mission of engaging our local and global communities in lifelong learning.”

FIU is currently offering MOOCs in applied real estate, entrepreneurship and new ventures, legal and ethical governance, and project management basics (offered in English and Spanish). The college-level courses are self-directed and designed to be completed in approximately 8 hours. They are non-credit courses, but students who complete all course requirements have the option of purchasing certificate of completion.

“Our MOOCs are designed using best practices in delivering online courses,” said Silvia Gurdian, program manager at FIU and instructor of two MOOCs, in a prepared statement. “It was an obvious choice to work with a partner with the industry experience and expertise to accommodate flexibility in course design.”

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