Request for Proposals: MOOCs – Spring 2019


The Office of the Provost invites faculty to apply for funding to develop Massive Open Online Courses.

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 and producing a MOOC is rewarding, it can also be very demanding requiring substantial time and resources from the faculty. With some productions lasting more than a year, it is critical to engage in careful planning and coordination of numerous activities, including course content, 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, content and media production, and software development from the Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). 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, rights clearances, and media costs that exceed the CTL’s normal in-kind support).

 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 2019 Provost’s RFP for Hybrid Learning Course Redesign and Delivery.



  • Full-time faculty.
  • MOOCs to be offered during either spring 2020, summer 2020 or fall 2020.
  • 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.


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 or course series, describing its rationale, approach (instructor-led or self-paced), intended audience, and length per course (6-8 sections per course recommended). 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?
  • If this course differs substantially from your existing classes, how much new material will need to be generated?
  • 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?
  • Describe any MOOCs you have participated in, as an instructor or a learner, and how that participation will inform your work on the MOOC.

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.

For instructor-led courses, estimate the expected frequency for repeated offerings over a period of two years after the initial release. The estimate should account for availability of the instructor and teaching assistants participating in the course.

 III. Syllabus: The complete syllabus (2-3 pages) indicates how the course will be divided into sections, modules, or other logical units. For each 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 lecture scripts, assessments, 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 the course content, including the lecture scripts, student assessments and learning outcomes. Course and media production will begin after faculty submits  the learning objectives, course content, and assessments for learning design evaluation.

V.  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.

VI.  Promotion and Marketing: A description of how the instructor, department and school will promote the course offering.

VII. 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.

VIII. Letter of Support: 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.



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 2019: [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 22, 2019 at 5:00 P.M.  Future RFPs will cover MOOCs to be offered in 2021 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 grants to the Provost.



Grant awardees will be selected by Friday, May 24, 2019 and announced soon after. Faculty will be notified of the grant amount and will be assigned a CTL contact for the project. The CTL contact, 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.



Grant 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.

Grant awardees will be invited to present on their courses at CTL events including the annual Celebration for Teaching and Learning Symposium.


Information Sessions

The CTL will hold a number of sessions to support Office of the Provost Teaching & Learning grant applicants. Find out more about these offerings at

  • Attend the Office of the Provost RFP Town Hall offered on Thursday, January 31, 11:00am to learn about the types of grants and the application process.
  • Visit the CTL for RFP-focused office hours on April 5, 12, and 18 from 2-4pm. CTL consultants will be on hand to help select the appropriate grant, to answer questions about the application process, and/or to provide feedback on proposals.
  • Learn more about previous successful projects and interact with grant awardees at the Celebration of Teaching & Learning Symposium to be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 in Low Library.

 Learn more: Provost’s Teaching and Learning RFPs