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Gates Grants to Fund Two MOOC Studies

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding two Duke studies that will examine aspects of the Massive Open Online Courses phenomenon.

Duke has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for two projects exploring Massive Open Online Courses and their effectiveness.

Each grant is for $25,000. One will examine how large employers are using these massive new courses, known as MOOCs, to identify potential workers and aid in professional development. The other will analyze peer-to-peer interactions in introductory writing and chemistry MOOC classes.

"These grants represent our continuing efforts to understand their benefit to students in science and how business sees their fit in the 21st century workforce," said Keith Whitfield, Duke's vice provost for academic affairs.

Whitfield is leading the study on employers, partnering with Alexandria Walton Radford and Laura Horn from Research Triangle Institute.

The peer-to-peer interaction study will be led by Denise Comer, Director of First-Year Writing with Duke's Thompson Writing Program, and Dorian Canelas, a chemistry professor. Comer has taught a MOOC writing course through Coursera, the online education platform Duke has partnered with, and Canelas will teach a chemistry course using Coursera in the spring.

Duke's awards were two of 28 projects selected from a pool of 266 submissions. The full list of awards is available here.