Wisdom from World Religions: A Massive Open Online Course
August 1, 2017 - July 31, 2019
Core Funding Area:
Director: Kenneth RoseInstitution: Graduate Theological Union
Until recently, the wisdom of the world’s many religions existed in separate silos, blocked from other traditions by barriers of language, distance, and slow communications. Now more than at any time in history, this collective wisdom is available to anyone. With the click of a mouse, you can access an enormous wealth of information and practice. Without a guide, though, it’s easy to lose your way.
Sir John Templeton’s writings draw direct connections between spiritual information and human virtue and progress—but he also identifies obstacles that might slow our advance. Taking his cue from in Sir John's book Wisdom from World Religions: Pathways Toward Heaven on Earth, Kenneth Rose created a massive open online course (MOOC) on the tenets and lessons from major faith traditions.
MOOCs are courses offering unlimited participation and open access online. They often include traditional course materials such as recorded lectures, assigned readings, and problem sets. Many also enable interactive learning forums supporting community interactions among professors, students, and facilitators.
By creating a free course available to anyone, Wisdom from World Religions provided an interactive platform to disseminate and popularize Sir John’s ideas to a broad audience. This six-week course included Sir John’s essays, video lectures, interactive quizzes, facilitated learning, and experiential activities built within a Learning Management System (LMS). The project team also oversaw a robust social media campaign designed to maximize international and multi-faith engagement.
Methodology and Outputs
In its first year, the team conducted research and developed the MOOC following the ADDIE instructional design model. Using a representative sampling of the content of Wisdom from the World Religions, Dr. Rose then designed a syllabus and filmed a series of short video lectures that synthesized the content of the required readings.
The second year involved marketing and implementation of the MOOC, along with pre- and post-testing. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the team assessed the initial group of registrants. Based on the results of the assessment, the team strengthened the course and launched it a second time. It also worked with a leading communications firm on a global promotional campaign to build awareness, gain enrollments, and encourage earned media.
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