Innovation in a MOOC: Project-Based Learning in the International Context

Miri Barak, Maya Usher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


A current trend in STEM education is to harness the power and reach of massive open online courses (MOOCs) to impart to students the skill of innovation. Innovation is a major driver of economic growth and development and a required skill for engineering students. The literature advocates the use of project-based learning (PBL) for promoting innovation; yet, we lack the understanding of how innovation takes shape and how to evaluate it. The current study addresses this gap by analyzing engineering students’ team projects and characterizing their quality and level of innovation. The study was conducted in the context of a PBL course in nanotechnology, while comparing three research groups: face-to-face (F2F) university students, online university students, and online world learners. Applying a mixed methods approach, the study included interviews with six experts in nanotechnology and the analysis of team projects (N = 296). Findings identified four categories of team project innovation: product necessity, STEM interdisciplinarity, market readiness, and innovation type. The online world learners group, which included students from different countries and academic backgrounds, exhibited relatively low performance. Their projects were mainly identified as offering incremental innovation, recognized as the lowest type of innovation. To advance project innovation of online learners, our study raises the need for regular and structured real-time synchronous meetings (through F2F and/or video), enabling online learners to be exposed to nonverbal expressions of their team members.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationActive Learning in College Science
Subtitle of host publicationThe Case for Evidence-Based Practice
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783030336004
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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