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GEM’s MOOC increasingly popular around the world

February 3, 2015
Michael Orlando

Michael Orlando

Global Energy Management Program’s Dr. Michael Orlando recently completed teaching his second MOOC. The massive, open, online course was titled “Fundamentals of Global Energy Business” and offered in the fall.

“FGEB provides a broad overview of energy markets and business considerations for organizations operating in those markets,” Orlando said. “It is complementary to the GEM curriculum and provides prospective students a high-level introduction to a range of issues encountered in energy business.”

Signature Track, which is a special software program that allows students to securely link their coursework to their identity thereby verifying academic integrity, accompanied the course, a first for the MOOC. Students who then successfully completed the course earned a verified certificate. More than 250 students opted to pay a fee for this service.

“I think our first offering of the ‘signature track’ option was a big success,” Orlando said.

Signature Track requires students to submit a writing sample and have an active webcam while online. From the instructor’s perspective, there is little difference between including and excluding the Signature Track option.

After completing Fundamentals of Global Energy Business, two students applied for the core GEM degree program.

“I now have a group of four or five ‘advisees’ from around the world who check in with me a few times a year to exchange thoughts on energy issues,” Orlando said. “Some of those have expressed interest in our MS degree program.”

The course officially opened on Oct. 20 and ran for eight weeks, including six weeks of lecture videos. This course is targeted toward anyone with an interest in energy issues.

Orlando has had students with backgrounds in the energy industry, those who hope to enter the industry, and others who are just interested in better understanding energy issues take his course.

“I’ve had early-career professionals, retirees, and junior high school students,” he said. “At our most recent commencement, a spouse of one of the Global Energy Management Program graduating students said she took the course. In general, the student base is much more diverse when you make a course available on a distribution platform like Coursera.”

Orlando’s students have indicated that one of the distinguishing features of this course, apart from others that discuss energy issues, is its focus on the business perspective.

“This course is about what is done by organizations participating in and developing energy resources,” Orlando said. “If you want to understand that perspective, which I think is complementary to the policy perspective, then this course is probably for you.”

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