Adopting MOOCs on Campus: A Collaborative Effort to Test MOOCs on Campuses of the University System of Maryland


  • Rebecca J. Griffiths ITHAKA
  • Matthew M. Chingos Brookings Institution
  • Richard Spies ITHAKA
  • Christine Mulhern ITHAKA



MOOC, side-by-side comparison, blended learning, hybrid


To address the paucity of data on the use of MOOCs in “traditional” postsecondary institutions, Ithaka S+R and the University System of Maryland studied the feasibility of repurposing MOOCs for use in hybrid, credit-bearing courses. In this paper we will describe the design of a large-scale study undertaken to examine the use of MOOCs in fourteen campus-based courses, followed by two types of findings: First, we will share quantitative outcomes from students in hybrid sections, comparing students who took MOOCs with those who were taught in a traditional face-to-face manner; second, we will share qualitative findings on the opportunities and challenges presented by the use of MOOCs on campus. Finally, we will reflect on what would need to occur in order for these models to see widespread adoption in the future.

Author Biographies

Rebecca J. Griffiths, ITHAKA

Program Director for Online Learning, Ithaka S+R

Matthew M. Chingos, Brookings Institution

Senior Fellow

Richard Spies, ITHAKA

Senior Advisor

Christine Mulhern, ITHAKA

Research Analyst


Bacow, L. S., Bowen, W.G. Guthrie, K.M., Lack, K.A., & Long, M.P. (May 2012). Barriers to Adoption of Online Learning Systems in U.S. Higher Education. Ithaka S+R. Available

Bowen, W. G., Chingos, M.M., Lack, K.A., & Nygren, T.I. (2014). Learning Online at Public Universities: Evidence from a Six-Campus Randomized Trial. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 33(1), 94-111.

Bruff, D. O., Fisher, D. H., McEwen, K. E., & Smith, B. E. (2013). Wrapping a MOOC: Student perceptions of an experiment in blended learning. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(2), 187-199

Figlio, D., Rush, M., & Yin, L. (2013) Is it Live or is it Internet? Experimental Estimates of the Effects of Online Instruction on Student Learning. Journal of Labor Economics, 31(4), 763-784.

Firmin, R., Schiorring, E., Whitmer, J., Willett, T., & Sujitparapitaya, S. (2013). Preliminary Summary SJSU Augmented Online Learning Environment Pilot Project. The Research & Planning Group for California Community Colleges. Available

Griffiths, R., Chingos, M., Mulhern, C., & Spies, R. (July 10, 2014). Interactive Online Learning on Campus: Testing MOOCs and Other Platforms in Hybrid Formats in the University System of Maryland. Ithaka S+R. Available at

Ho, A. D., Reich, J., Nesterko, S., Seaton, D. T., Mullaney, T., Waldo, J., & Chuang, I. (2014). HarvardX and MITx: The first year of open online courses (HarvardX and MITx Working Paper No. 1). Available at SSRN: or

Joyce, T.J., Crockett, S., Jaeger, D.A., Altindag, O., & O’Connell, S.D. (March 2014). Does Classroom Time Matter? A Randomized Field Experiment of Hybrid and Traditional Lecture Formats in Economics. NBER working paper No. 20006.

Veeramachaneni, K., Dernoncourt, F., Taylor, C., Pardos, Z., & O’Reilly, U. M. (2013, June). MOOCDB: Developing data standards for MOOC data science. InAIED 2013 Workshops Proceedings Volume (p. 17).






Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Research