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I have built my first MOOC! It is posted as a series of separate pages on my website. Click here to start the course at the beginning. Or read below for more information about the design of The Awesome Project MOOC.

1. Introduction:

In January of 2014 I decided to do something awesome: The Awesome Project. Modelled after Genius Hour, I am giving my students one hour out of every five we meet (that’s 20% time) to research any topic of their choosing. The resulting lessons and conversations among students are some of the most exciting I’ve ever seen. In this post I am explaining the setup of an online course I have built that will teach anyone how to adapt The Awesome Project to their classroom.

2. Description:

In “The Awesome Project MOOC”, participants will master how to design, implement, and involve the community in a simple yet revolutionary approach to inquiry-based learning. Participants will design their own version of The Awesome Project, created with the input of online and face to face peers.

3. Course Topic:

Creativity, Imagination, & Inquiry in ANY Awesome Primary or Secondary Classroom

4. Course Title & Photo:

The Awesome Project MOOC


5. Who is coming to your course? What will attract them? Why would they want to participate in this experience?

Any teacher who wants their classroom to look like the classroom of the future, where student interest and engagement decide what happens, not a set curriculum and schedule based on 19th century society. If a teacher is interested in implementing a project similar to Genius Hour where students are given freedom to pursue a topic they are passionate about, they should take this course! This course will walk you through the design of your own Awesome Project and also help you navigate important community stakeholders (parents, admin, colleagues). You will be given all the tools and templates you need to deliver Awesome to your classroom!

6. What do you want learners to be able to do when they are done? How long is your course experience? Learners will…

  • Explore research on creativity, imagination, and inquiry.
  • Examine underlying design principles behind the Awesome Project and tailor it to your community and classroom.
  • Gain new tech skills that allow you to efficiently monitor student inquiry.
  • Create your own exciting introduction to the project.
  • Start delivering Awesomeness to your classroom.
  • Need about 4 hours spread out over a few days.

7. What will peers make?

This course will begin with an exploration of the learning theories and design framework that support The Awesome Project. As you work through the course, you will garner support for the project and receive feedback on it from community members and colleagues in your own building as well as from online peers. The course also provides training in the tech skills that help you monitor and support your students during The Awesome Project. The course culminates in the creation of all instructional materials necessary to run The Awesome Project in any classroom.

8. Now that you’ve identified skills and made projects for each skill, how do those activities hang together as a course?

I have closely modelled the structure of each stage after what we follow in the MSU Master’s of Educational Technology with some slight adaptations. Each stage is built to involve the following: Explore, Create, Share, and Assess. This approach to learning is grounded in Knowles’ theory of andragogy. The Awesome Project MOOC provides clear answers to the major assumptions of the theory.

(1) Adults need to know why they need to learn something
The Awesome Project MOOC addresses a growing need in education, to provide authentic learning activities that mirror what is readily available online outside of school.

(2) Adults need to learn experientially
Many steps in The Awesome Project MOOC require peers to have conversations with colleagues online as well as in-building.

(3) Adults approach learning as problem-solving
Adapting the core design principles of The Awesome Project MOOC to their own classroom is a pedagogical challenge. Garnering community support will require a different set of skills that are no less important to the ultimate success of the project.

(4) Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.
Completion of The Awesome Project MOOC will result in all the instructional materials necessary to deliver it in any classroom.

9. How will peers help each other in your course?

Peers will be the reflective sounding board for participants as they examine the underlying research and design principles behind The Awesome Project. They will also encourage each other as they reach out to face to face peers for feedback on how they are adapting the design principles to their own teaching environment. I have modelled my approach to peer assessment from the Video Game Design & Development Level 1 course from P2PU.

10. What is the design architecture for your course. How will each week’s modules be organized and why have you designed it in this way?

I have built in a number of evaluation steps so that learners are able to step back and view their work with the aid of online and face to face peers. This approach mirrors the Rapid Prototyping Model which I addressed more thoroughly in my last post.


Culatta, R. (2013). Andragogy (Malcolm Knowles). Instructional Design. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/andragogy.html

Bickerstaff, J. (2010, September 23). Six hours [Neon light bulb]. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from http://flic.kr/p/8GXASB

Image Licensing Information

Image licensed by Julia Bickerstaff under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Original image can be found here.