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February 7, 2014

W&M, Colonial Williamsburg to explore joint MOOC

William & Mary and its neighboring institution, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, are partnering to explore a Massive Open Online Course – commonly referred to as a MOOC – that would examine the American Revolution and Virginia’s role in Colonial America’s struggle for independence from Great Britain.

The collaboration that will leverage the unique assets and expertise of both institutions for educational purposes was announced Thursday morning at a joint meeting of the W&M’s Board of Visitors, the Alumni Association and W&M Foundation.

The exploratory venture builds upon W&M’s faculty and staff e-learning initiatives to explore new technical platforms. At the same time, the partnership leverages The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Education Media and Production departments’ innovative and award-winning education, history and production skills.

The assets of both institutions, including museum and library collections, publications, photography and video production facilities, as well as curriculum development and instructional design expertise will all be used to create a MOOC exploring the relevance of the American Revolution.

“This initiative is very engaging for three reasons. First, it is an opportunity for William & Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to step into the world of MOOCs. This is a world we should get to know. Second, it’s hard to imagine two institutions any more expert at crafting a compelling course about Virginia’s role in the struggle for American independence than W&M and CW. Our historians are at the cutting edge. Third, working together with the Foundation, our neighbor and partner in many ways, will be a mutually rewarding delight,” said President Taylor Reveley.

“This initiative in partnership with the College of William & Mary is a welcome and logical extension of the Foundation’s increasing use of technology in our K-16 educational outreach offerings and in the Revolutionary City,” said Colonial Williamsburg Foundation President Colin G. Campbell.

“The opportunities to offer outstanding MOOCs at the post-secondary level are legion and there is a hunger for them. This College/Foundation partnership is taking a significant step in helping to meet the demand.”

William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg will work together to develop a detailed proposal for the course and will seek donor support for funding. W&M Professor James Whittenburg has been appointed to serve as the MOOC’s lead instructor, including curriculum development and course content. He is the Pullen Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies, specializing in colonial America and early national history.

Whittenburg and his colleagues in the Lyon G. Tyler Department of History recently received top honors in U.S. News & World Report’s survey on graduate schools, which ranked William & Mary’s U.S. colonial history program third in the nation.

His counterpart at Colonial Williamsburg will be Frances Burroughs, Theresa A. and Lawrence C. Salameno Director of Educational Program Development. Burroughs and her colleagues in the division of Productions, Publications and Learning Ventures create Emmy Award winning interactive television programming.

The creation of a MOOC is not the first joint endeavor for the two organizations. In 2001, a partnership was established to maximize the immense resources located within the Historic Triangle and provide interdisciplinary programs that instruct students in early American history, material culture, museum studies, and public history.

For more than a decade, the National Institute of American History and Democracy (NIAHD) has sponsored an array of programs for W&M students, students from other colleges and universities, and high school students.

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
757-220-7281



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