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OSU’s first free, massive course attracts thousands worldwide

CORVALLIS, Ore. – More than 5,000 students from around the world enrolled in Oregon State University’s first massive open online course, or MOOC, which launched Oct. 1.

The free, eight-week course, Supporting English Language Learners under New Standards, is offered in partnership with Stanford University and is funded by the Oregon Department of Education. The enrollment figure exceeds the expectations of the MOOC’s developers and instructors.

“We can tell from the feedback that the course is addressing a real need educators have, providing opportunities to learn more about supporting English language learners,” said Karen Thompson, one of the course’s three instructors and an assistant professor in Oregon State’s College of Education.

Although it is particularly relevant to K-12 educators in the 11-state ELPA 21 consortium, the class has attracted a global audience. In addition to learners from most states in America, the course includes participants from Vietnam, Syria, Ecuador, Spain, Brazil, Ukraine, Libya and other countries.

Participants will work in teams to gather and analyze language samples from their students, exploring how ELLs construct claims supported by evidence. Educators from numerous districts in Oregon have already formed groups in the MOOC. There are also teams from a middle school in New York City, a district in Iowa and a language school in Romania to name a few.

“Some teams consist of real-life colleagues while in other teams educators who teach a similar grade level or content area are connecting for the first time via the course,” Thompson said. “ODE, Stanford and Oregon State are all pleased with the enthusiasm this course is generating.”

Joining Thompson as instructors are Kenji Hakuta and Sara Rutherford-Quach of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, and the university’s Understanding Language.

Oregon State Ecampus is also a partner in the MOOC and has provided multimedia and support services for the course.


About the Oregon State University College of Education: Our mission is to prepare, inspire and support teachers, counselors, educational leaders, researchers, and volunteers to promote lifelong learning in schools, colleges, universities, communities, and workplaces. Embracing an innovative spirit in teaching, research, service, and knowledge dissemination, we are committed to the values of diversity and social justice in a global society.

About Oregon State University Ecampus: Through comprehensive online degree programs, Oregon State Ecampus provides learners with access to a high-quality education no matter where they live. We deliver nearly 40 undergraduate and graduate degree programs online, and we are consistently ranked among the nation’s best providers of online education. Learn more at