University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Gabfest 2013

GABfest header

On November 8, 2013, the Graduate Advisory Board of the IHGC will be coordinating a collaborative conference entitled GABFest MOOCS. This event will be structured as a series of roundtable discussions, bringing together U.Va. faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students across the humanities to discuss how the emergence of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) affects the present and futures of students, the classroom, and the university. Has the explosion of these new course formats radically altered our conception of more traditional forms of teaching? What happens to the relationship between teachers and students when courses go online? What sorts of students take these courses, anyway? And who gets left out of the technological revolution? Each panel session will be framed briefly by a few invited discussion leaders before opening the conversation to everyone involved for the majority of the panel session.

If you have any questions or would like to help with the event, contact Brandon Walsh: bmw9t [at]


Location: OpenGrounds Studio Map >, located on the Corner next to the Women's Center, behind the bus stop and near the train trestle.

Breakfast & Coffee (8:30-9 AM)

The Pedagogy of MOOCs (9-10 AM)

How do pedagogical theories and practices change when instruction occurs online, and for a large number of students? This panel will discuss the development of standards and best practices for teaching MOOCs, the challenges of assessing student learning, and the emerging theories and philosophies of MOOC pedagogy.

This panel is co-sponsored by our partners in the Teaching Resource Center.

Confirmed panelists: Brian Owensby, Professor in History, U.Va.; Jim Seitz, Director, Writing Program, English, U.Va.; Carol Guarnieri, PhD student in English, U.Va.; Swati Chawla, PhD student in History, U.Va.

Organized by: Swati Chawla, Ph.D. student in History, U.Va., and Adriana Streifer, Ph.D. student in English, U.Va

Global MOOCs (10:30-11:30 AM)

This panel will address the pragmatic advantages or pitfalls of MOOCs in an international context. It will also address the ethical, post-colonial, and exploitative implications of American education being disseminated for profit in those contexts, as well as the marketing strategies used to disseminate that education around the world. Some questions that this panel is interested in exploring are (though not limited to): what is the true value of MOOC certifications in foreign contexts? What advantages might be had by those in other countries who chose to enroll? What are some of the costs or obstacles that those who chose to enroll might encounter? What are some of the assumptions that MOOC corporations make in order to sell their product, and how might they result in less than efficacious learning? How are MOOCs marketed to potential students in other countries, and what are the implications of such marketing strategies?

Confirmed panelists: Amanda French, Research Assistant Professor and THATCamp Coordinator, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, GMU; Andrew Ferguson, PhD Student in English, U.Va.; Bruce Holsinger, Professor in English, U.Va.

Organized by: Kayla Kauffman, Ph.D.student in Religious Studies, U.Va.,and Annie Galvin, Ph.D. student in English, U.Va.

(Break for Lunch)

Case study of a sample MOOC lesson and reflection (1-2 PM)

What do MOOCS look like, anyway? In this workshop, we will work through a few MOOC lessons together and reflect on the experience as a group. How do disciplinary boundaries shape or prevent MOOC lessons and expectations? How does user interface and experience reflect assumptions about audience? What happens to the lecturer or to the class when they become part of a digital framework? MOOCs may have us watching lecture videos alone with a laptop, but this hands on workshop will allow us to think through the MOOC experience live and together.

Organized by Grace Erdmann, M.A.student in Middle Eastern Studies, U.Va.

The People behind MOOCs: Student Motivation, Performance, and Demographics (2:30-3:30 PM)

What are educators learning about student motivation and success related to MOOCs? What challenges do instructors face in sustaining student motivation over the duration of an online course, and what strategies have been successful? How do students who take MOOCs describe their experiences? What demographic issues related to MOOCs must educators consider? In a system so thoroughly saturated with the technological, is there still room for human interaction? These are some of the questions this panel will discuss.

Confirmed panelists: Joshua Brown, Director of Research and Assessment for Student Affairs, Liberty University; Kristin Palmer, Director of Online Learning Programs, U.Va.; Ignacio Martinez, PhD student in Economics, U.Va.

Organized by Christine Landau, Ph.D. student in Religious Studies, U.Va.

Post-GABfest Reception (3:30 PM)