Open Education Initiatives

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Open Courses

CIEE has been engaged by academic units of the university in partnership with corporate partners to produce two Online Open Courses, intentionally distinct in delivery modes, intended learning populations, engagement methods, and learning platforms.

Coasts and Communities

This Massive Open Online Course offers a free academic experience online, led by Robyn Hannigan and Anamarija Frankić from UMass Boston’s School for the Environment who are authorities on the fragile co-existence of coast and community. This connectivist MOOC addresses complex coastal, marine and watershed environments and help local communities solve environmental problems through close analysis of the ecologies of Boston Harbor, Mystic, Wellfleet, Cape Anne and Rockaway.

Course first ran from September 30 until November 5, 2013. To learn more and/or to register for the course, please visit

Molecular Dynamics for Discoveries in Computational Science

The Adaptive MOOC, Molecular Dynamics for Discoveries in Computational Science, a graduate level course, ran for 12 weeks from March to June 2013 and remains available for viewing and self-study within the Adaptive Mobile Online Learning (AMOL) platform. CIEE sponsored this MOOC in partnership with the UMass Boston Physics Department and Synaptic Global Learning, receiving invaluable captioning support through the Liberated Learning Consortium.

New technology is now allowing online course environments to analyze how individual students learn, customizing instruction to individualized learning strategies. The College of Advancing and Professional Studies (CAPS) at the University of Massachusetts Boston has teamed up with Synaptic Global Learning (SGL) to use the new learning management system, Adaptive Mobile Online Learning (AMOL), to deliver the first adaptive Massive Online Open Course (a-MOOC) ever offered.

“Molecular Dynamics for Computational Discoveries In Science” was taught by Nishikant Sonwalkar, a scientist, academician and adjunct professor of physics at UMass Boston. Sonwalkar, who teaches on both the graduate and undergraduate level, has a long history of success as an educational innovator. His company, Synaptic Global Learning, sought UMass Boston as a partner to leverage UMass Boston’s reputation for excellence in eLearning design and to extend UMass Boston’s mission as a public university.

Collaborative Exploration

CIEE is exploring a partnership with Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) Graduate Program, which has since April 2013 hosted a series of online Collaborative Explorations (CEs) open to the public ( CEs are an extension of Project-Based Learning (PBL) in which participants shape their own directions of inquiry stimulated by interactions in a small group through live sessions for an hour over 4 weeks and asynchronous exchanges and inquiry in between.  The CEs often parallel, but are independent from, equivalent PBL cases in regular CCT courses.  In contrast to MOOCs, a CE focuses on establishing effective learning in small online communities then potentially scales up from there. CEs aim to address the needs of online learners who want to: dig deeper; make "thicker" connections with other learners; connect topics with their own interests; participate for shorter periods than a semester-long MOOC; and learn without needing credits or badges given for MOOC completion. In short, online CEs aim to be "moderate-size open online collaborative learning."

More Information

Coasts and Communities

Collaborative Exploration

Contact Us

For more information, please contact:

Alan Girelli