Mass Online Open Courses (MOOCs) present a vital opportunity for universities to offer free online courses on essential challenges and development areas. UMUC delegated the mandate of assessing the feasibility of venturing into MOOCs to a taskforce. The following report represents the proposal of the Taskforce on the Implementation of MOOCs on Climate Change.
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Introductory remarks and background information establish the origin of the project to implement climate change MOOCs at UMUC. The relevance of the discipline of climate change develops through distinct sections in the proposal, detailing on practical climate change interventions.
A highlight of the modules intended for the provision in the courses builds on the relevance and practicality of the proposed MOOCs. To achieve an informative conclusion, the report adopts the cost-benefits approach to present the case of adoption for the proposed model. The inclusion of distinct recommendations emphasizes the need for an urgent implementation of the project.
Mass Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provide a rare opportunity for the global community to contribute to academic development, with an aim of tackling common global challenges. The relevance of the expanded scope of the classroom originates from the ability to tackle the challenges brought about by globalization.
As a global village, solutions emerge from handling challenges with a unified global perspective in order to capture varied needs of every global community. International barriers to interaction, notably information and communication continue to decline thanks to technological advancements.
In proportion to standardized practices across the global community, sharing of information proves as an unavoidable action. Among the most remarkable contributions in devising innovative ways to support global challenges, education ranks top on the list. Despite the differences in sociocultural and political characteristics, the global community finds education as a vital unification factor.
Seemingly, a global perspective to bring many students to academic cooperation offers an invaluable opportunity to tackle pressing global issues. The spread of industrialization as a component of globalization avails a number of challenges that require a broader concept of academic contribution.
Among the current chronic industrialization challenges facing the world, climate change poses astronomical risks to both life and property. In adopting the proposed MOOCs, UMUC provides learners with a platform to contribute solutions suitable at various levels of intervention.
MOOCs avail an ingenious channel for dissemination of information across the world, making gains in supporting the global culture. This proposal tackles the suitability of MOOCs to UMUC as relevant elements of change in tackling climate change. In this proposal, the adopted scope considers the introduction of interventions at both industrial and household levels.
MOOCs continue to provide elite international universities with an opportunity to provide free lectures on vital disciplines affecting development. UMUC intends to join the league of elite institutions of higher learning with the introduction of suitable and relevant courses in line with its mission. As a leading distance learning University, UMUC aims at providing courses that cement its global status.
Following recommendations of the Taskforce on MOOCs, the following report extrapolates on the details of the proposed courses on climate change. UMUC’s decision to implement the identified MOOCs originates from a number of convictions, which highlight the need to remain relevant in the drastically changing online education demand.
The proposal assumes UMUC success on other distance learning courses offered by the University as the ideal foundation for launching MOOCs on climate change. As a strong supporter of environmental conservation, the University closely associates with projects around environmental sustainability disciplines. Using MOOCs, the University stands to make progress in its mission of providing an open learning platform and changing the world’s perception on learning.
Other MOOCs touch on many disciplines, but they lack practical contributions on environmental sustainability. A few MOOCs offered on climate change tackle sensitization on climate change and environmental conservation. UMUC intends to roll out a project that introduces climate change and offers practical solutions to the challenges from climate change.
The beauty of the proposed MOOCs lies within the ability to offer solutions to both household and industrial levels. Carbon emission accounts for the most quantifiable approach to measure human contribution to climate change. The project highlights the problem of climate change from different perspectives adding up to carbon emissions and energy choices.
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Condensing the linked topics of carbon emission, energy consumption and impact on climate change enables the proposed MOOCs to articulate on different emergent challenges. In view of linking the gap of free online courses on climate change, UMUC intends to offer academic leadership on this contentious debate.
Ostensibly, climate change management begins with establishing adaptation to the altered environment by increasing capacity to mitigate associated risks at various levels. The next stage of management includes implementation of deliberate measures to curb destructive human activities with regard to climate change.
Coordination of efforts targeting various dimensions on impact of climate change must have a clear information flow to every stakeholder. Various courses offered to establish adaptation and climate change reduction fail to create the relevant link across society dimensions. As illustrated in Figure 1 below, the MOOCs design proposed for implementation at UMUC targets three aggregate climate change dimensions (Lasco and Yohe, 2007).
On the economic dimension, UMUC will provide solutions regarding economic activities and the urgency of industries to comply with the culture of adaptive responses. Embracing green practices for industries under tight environmental sensitivity must originate from various leadership levels (Lasco and Yohe, 2007).
Additionally, UMUC will support information dissemination on ecological responsiveness through households and industrial innovative initiatives. Equally, social dimension of climate change management will handle awareness across communities on sustainable development as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Conceptualized climate change adaptation and sustainable development model (Lasco and Yohe, 2007, p. 815).
Call for Action
This report analyzes the current global environment with regard to climate change training targeted at raising impact mitigation. As illustrated in Graph 1, carbon dioxide contributes the commonest climate change effect, referred to as the greenhouse effect (EPA, 2013). Greenhouse gases management translates into a practical and efficient way of reducing the impact of climate change.
With this information, the data on climate change contributors leads to generation of an array of opportunities to devise counter measures. The MOOCs proposal targets the gaps available in launching practical processes to tackle climate change and capitalizes on potential alternatives to offer tangible solutions. Future trends, as illustrated below face increased emission projections within the current human activity setting.
The interventions proposed through various MOOCs modules target introducing mitigation efforts with clear and practical steps.
Graph 1: Magnitude of greenhouse emissions by gas type (EPA, 2013, para. 1)
Current and Future Trends
According to available data on global trends in carbon emission, the previous several decades experienced steep increases as shown in Graph 2 (EPA, 2013). The world did not implement sufficient measures to reverse the trend during the first decade of the millennium. In view of reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, MOOCs intends to teach deliberate steps in embracing greener energies.
Industrialization peak spread its impact across various sectors including transportation and power generation into the 21st century. During the same period, erratic climatic conditions associated with the greenhouse impact continued to rise. Linking the emissions trend to the devastating weather patterns across the world depicts the urgency of devising practical solutions through education.
Graph 2: Carbon dioxide emission resulting from fossil fuels (EPA, 2013, para. 3)
The Proposed MOOCs
In terms of the actual targets of curbing climate change, UMUC will identify various sectors in close consultation with socioeconomic and political agenda. As an illustration, Graph 3 depicts the most effective sectors for which MOOCs will target revolutionary input (EPA, 2013). In devising relevant MOOCs modules, energy production and consumption alternatives will get significant attention.
Equally, the MOOCs will target industrial processes leading to various gas emissions, solid and liquid wastes that gain entry into the environment. Despite the fact that forestry practices provide an essential emission control mechanisms, UMUC will highlight counterproductive activities through the proposed MOOCs. In addition, MOOCs will target deforestation, which results in production of firewood and other biomass.
Natural biomass degradation leads to carbon emissions, consequently converting forestry from a vital carbon sink into a leading emitter. Furthermore, the society sees agricultural production as a source of carbon emission with a little suspicion, but UMUC will clarify the hidden risks. Various practices that need alignment with green production culture will also target transport and construction sectors.
As mentioned above, waste management will form an influential component of the proposed MOOCs.
Graph 3: Carbon emissions by sources (EPA, 2013, para. 2)
The proposed MOOCs model will comprise of courses designed to handle each of the above areas with detailed modules. As an illustration, the module touching on impact from fossil fuel will provide detailed fuel emission cuts. Among the interventions to teach, the module will target efficiency in the current energy production and consumption.
In terms of the current household energy consumption and production, the proposed MOOCs will provide practical information on handling uncontrolled emissions. At the household levels, UMUC will provide clear controls befitting household level input. Heating using methane gas for instance will fall within household intervention steps taught in the module.
Equally, the module will condense all relevant research findings with relevant emission cutting interventions for industries. Asimov (2013, para. 5) reckons, “the new courses undergo rigorous peer review and allow students to interact with professors and fellow students alike”.
Alternatively, provision of information for eco-friendly industrial practices designed to reduce climate change will form a separate module under industrial practices. Separate from the energy concept, industrial emissions from production practices must fall within standards proposed under green practices. As an illustration, various production processes have by-products with colossal volumes of greenhouse gases.
Releasing such emissions during production processes exposes conservation efforts to irreversible setbacks. Training program outcomes under the proposed module will handle treatment of such emissions before their release. Middle level industries lacking the capacity to establish elaborate components of eliminating emissions will benefit from simplified solutions proposed through the modules.
Huge production plants with such emission challenges will equally benefit from training on efficiency in handling their production processes. Furthermore, the project will dedicate a module for the provision of interventions to transport generated emissions. Perhaps one of the most practical explanations for the role of the transport industry in carbon emission touches on fossil fuel consumption.
Similar to the energy generation component of emissions, a link exists in fuel used in powering various media of transport. Road transport contributes a huge component of carbon emissions through combustion of fossil fuels such as petroleum and diesel. Similar levels of carbon emission result from air, rail and sea modes of transport that use combustion engines.
In providing interventions, the module will teach emission reduction techniques such as use of public transport and use of eco-friendly engines. Additionally, the proposed MOOCs will dedicate a module for handling various adverse effects of construction projects and buildings. Various construction materials with carbon emission potential crowd the construction market.
Whereas other safer construction materials exist in the market, contractors lack information on the best climate friendly materials to use. Providing free training to material dealers and consumers will provide environmental conservation efforts with vital information. Dedicating a module to stakeholders in the building and construction industry will facilitate an enhanced position for dealing with climate change.
In this regard, the proposed MOOCs will ensure that the multibillion-construction industry responds to climate friendly practices. On the other hand, MOOCs modules will accord attention to handling of solid wastes and wastewaters from industrial and household sources. The bulk of wastes from industries and households decompose to give emissions aggravating greenhouse effect.
To defuse the impact of these wastes, the module will condense information on handling waste contents before their safe release into the environment. The MOOCs will facilitate attaining reduced waste content of carbon through proposals of controlled waste release. In light of module contents proposed, the MOOCs will concentrate on recycling and safer incineration of waste materials.
In summary, every component of main carbon emitters will find an intervention in the modules. Apparently, one of the most significant target groups for the proposed interventions includes policy decision makers. Designing clear proposals for regulation and enforcement authorities will characterize the practical aspect of the modules. I
n light of the practical sections proposed, the proposed modules will enable integration of the taught content into the envisioned conservation systems. Provision of quantifiable emission reduction will follow the carbon calculation concept widely used in the developed world at the household level. Increasing compliance with the proposed industrial standards requires clear steps, which the proposed MOOCs will address.
Summary of Benefits
The proposal to carry out the MOOCs project implementation considers the cost benefit analysis to inform the conviction for its suitability and sustainability. Anderson (2012, para. 4) observes that colleges rely on MOOCs for “major transformation as they test what they can provide through advanced technology and how they can operate more efficiently”. In light of the benefits that will accrue by immediate implementation, the following considerations support the project.
- The MOOCs will position UMUC among the undoubted leading distance learning institutions in the US and around the world. A competitive position will increase the market share for students and consumption of content for sale, which increases profitability.
- The project will support online marketing of UMUC for other courses offered through distance learning. A huge online presence by the University will complement its marketing outcomes and enhance its brand image worldwide.
- Access of materials through the internet by a large number of people will earn some revenues through service charges. Internet browsing charges raise revenue that can support the development of further content for consumers.
- The opportunity to offer certificates at a fee opens additional options for the University to make additional revenues. Diversifying revenue sources increases sustainability of the University within the current austerity pressure. Anderson (2013, para. 1) reported that universities offering MOOCs “will enable students who successfully complete the courses to obtain credentials, for a small fee”.
- Provision of free online courses will reduce costs by making use of idle University resources to offer free learning to the masses. The current capacity for distance learning courses at UMUC can support extra students and impart academic knowledge at the same costs.
- Creation of learning partnerships among learners will increase academic interaction and research on climate change and spur development. Increased networking supports outcomes of innovation and increases development of life-changing products.
- Provision of useful and sustainable innovations to adapt to climate change will attract funding from government and other development partners. Such opportunities will facilitate reduction of costs in running the project and add value to the quality of the MOOCs.
- Implementing the project will enable the University to learn on latest global information consumption and design its academic products in line with observed patterns. Understanding global attributes of information consumption will assist in reducing excesses and offer demand driven products accurately.
Summary of Costs if Rejected
The University stands to lose on a number of opportunities in case the proposal fails to kick off as enumerated in the following points.
- Climate change debate affects every person in the world, which may depict failure to address it as insensitive. UMUC must turn adversity into an opportunity to change lives by supporting the green culture.
- Failure to implement the MOOCs will lock out the benefit of accessing the technology hungry generation of youth in search of such education products. As a majority in student populations, failure to tap the youth numbers will adversely affect UMUC’s as an elite education brand.
- Failure to adapt to changing education products may depict the University as inflexible.
Summary on Recommendations
The proposal concludes by presenting the following recommendation to the UMUC management for consideration in the project implementation decisions. In brief, the relevance of MOOCs in disseminating the illustrated concepts builds on the success attained in establishing an open learning platform at UMUC. In view of the success attained in distance learning, the University reports tremendous outcomes in development and capacity enhancing courses.
Projections on the impact of establishing MOOCs responsive to climate change indicate positive outcomes as attained by other development related courses. UMUC provides an opportunity to align climate change responsiveness with development, making it a relevant discipline to consider in the MOOCs project.
- From the current distance learning programs, the university will find a vantage point of entry into offering free online courses. To this end, the report recommends that the University management officials engage the Department of Open Learning to utilize the current institutional capacity to kick off the project.
- The University enjoys a preferential position as a leading institution of higher learning through open and distance learning. The report proposes that an urgent implementation takes advantage of this current position to secure the future of UMUC development. Uncertain future fluctuations in performance and market dominance may not guarantee success for implementation in future.
- The University must take advantage of the climate change discipline to generate lasting partnerships and networking to spur development and funding for its programs. Implementing the program will enable accessing funding for projects by foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the ability to impart adaptive change. On such funding, Diamond 2012 (para. 6) reported, “the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded millions in grants to support and expand this movement”.
- Diversification of MOOCs on other important development disciplines will gain momentum from this project. In this regard, the report recommends deployment of sufficient resources and effort to secure success for future MOOCs.
Anderson, N. (2013). Online college courses to grant credentials, for a fee. Web.
Asimov, N. (2013). UC’s online courses fail to lure outsiders. Web.
Diamond, L. (2012). Open online classes transform Georgia colleges. Web.
EPA, (2013). Global greenhouse gas emissions data. Web.
Lasco, R., & Yohe, G. (2007). Perspectives on climate change and sustainability. Web.