Request For Proposals:

Massive Open Online Courses (Spring 2017)

The Office of the Provost is now accepting proposals for the development of new MOOCs on an annual basis.

Courses offered through MOOC platforms have the potential to reach large and global audiences, to stimulate curiosity and intellectual exploration, to make more visible the teaching and research activities of the University, and to promote public engagement. While the experience of developing these courses is rewarding, MOOCs are very demanding. They require substantial time, as much as a year, to prepare as well as careful planning and coordination of numerous activities: course design, media production, rights clearances, and publicity. The proposal process ensures that Columbia’s MOOCs reflect the University’s commitment to teaching excellence and that courses receive full support in each of these areas.

Proposals from all disciplines and subject areas are welcome. We particularly encourage proposals for courses that:

  • Cover topics that have not previously been taught as a MOOC on edX or Coursera
  • Feature innovative course design and materials
  • Enhance the educational experience of Columbia undergraduate and graduate students and of learners everywhere

Accepted courses will receive consultation services and support for instructional design and media production from the Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning. Funds will be available from the Office of the Provost for each MOOC of up to $25,000. These funds and other funds available to the instructor(s) must cover all teaching and production costs (including teaching assistants/course assistants costs, media costs that exceed the CTL’s normal in-kind support, and rights clearances).

Faculty who are primarily interested in developing online components for courses taught at Columbia, rather than developing their courses as a MOOC, may wish to consider responding instead to the Spring 2017 Provost’s RFP for Hybrid Courses.


  • Full-time faculty.
  • MOOCs to be offered during either spring 2018, summer 2018 or fall 2018.
  • A prior consultation with the CTL is strongly recommended before completing the proposal. Also, faculty may arrange for a test video recording to be included with the proposal. Please contact to schedule the consultation and recording.
  • Faculty receiving funding are strongly encouraged to participate in a MOOC Design & Pedagogy Intensive training. Dates will be announced.

Proposal Requirements

I.    Cover Sheet – Include name of the PI(s), title of the course and school or department

II.   Narrative The narrative section (2-3 pages) provides an overview of the proposed course, describing its rationale, subject matter and general approach, intended audience, and level of difficulty. While the narrative provides a course synopsis, it should also articulate your motives and aspirations.

The specific form the narrative takes is flexible and will likely depend on the nature of the course being proposed. You may wish to respond, directly or indirectly, to some of the following questions:

  • Why is this particular course a good candidate for development as a MOOC?
  • What do you expect students will get out of the class?
  • How will this course engage a diverse and global audience?
  • In what ways will developing the course contribute to Columbia’s curriculum or your own teaching and research?
  • What instructional methods will you use?
  • How does the course take advantage of the scale, platform, or other affordances of the MOOC class environment?
  • What will be the longevity of the course for future instances beyond the initial run?
  • How does the course differ from existing classes offered by MOOC providers?
  • What parts of the course, if any, would you consider using in future teaching at Columbia?
  • Will the course invite participation by Columbia undergraduate or graduate students in its development or teaching, particularly in ways that provide professional development opportunities?

Generally, course narratives will be strongest when they include specific examples of topics you will cover, teaching methods you intend to use, or activities that you hope to incorporate into the class.

III.    Syllabus: The complete syllabus (2-3 pages) indicates how the course will be divided into weeks, modules, sections, or other logical units. For each week or section of the course, please provide a clear description of the topics to be covered, required readings, and assignments or other activities and number of hours of work expected of the students.

IV.     Production needs and timeline: Describe in detail (2-3 pages) the specific materials that will need to be created for the course. This should include lectures or instructional videos, multimedia, visualizations, textbooks, software, and anything else that will need to be created or purchased for the class.

This section should also include an estimated timeline or schedule for producing all of the course materials.

V.    Budget and Budget Justification – (1-2 pages): Detail in-kind support needed from the CTL and additional funding of up to $25,000. Funding can be used for course preparation, external course content, technology and media development costs, administrative costs, teaching assistants/course assistants, and rights clearances. Please mention all other sources of funding if any.

Vi.    A letter of support from the applicant’s Dean or Vice Dean must be provided. In order to provide the review committee with additional information to base their funding decision, deans or vice deans are invited to provide comments on the importance of the proposal plan for their school.

VII.   Copyright: If the course will rely on copyrighted material (texts, images, videos, etc.), you will need to describe briefly (1 page or less) the nature and extent of these materials, as well as their relative importance within the course. Please indicate whether any public domain, open-access, or rights-free materials could be substituted for copyrighted works in the course.

Submission Procedure

Final proposals must be submitted by the Dean’s office of your school (one PDF file for each proposal) via email to with the subject line of “RFP MOOC 2017: [Last Name of Applicant].” An email confirmation that the proposal submission has been received will be sent within 24 hours.


The deadline is Monday, April 24, 2017 at 5:00 P.M.  Future RFPs will cover MOOCs to be offered in 2018 and beyond.

Review Process

Proposals will be reviewed by a committee of faculty representing a range of disciplines and schools, who will provide a recommended set of awards to the Provost.


Selections will be made by Wednesday, May 31, 2017. Faculty will be notified of the award amount and will be assigned a CTL learning designer who will serve as their primary contact for the program. The CTL learning designer, together with a team of staff with appropriate expertise for the specific project, will provide support in instructional design, pedagogy, media and/or technologies, and assessment.


Awardees will be expected to submit a two-page summary report, and a description of expenditures after the MOOC has been released to the Office of the Provost. The report should summarize the project, including project evaluation, along with insights and conclusions. Awardees will be invited to present on their courses at CTL events including the annual Celebration for Teaching and Learning Symposium.