University of Wisconsin–Madison

MOOCs inspire community projects around Wisconsin

photo_moocs website
Fellows tied their proposals to a topic covered in UW-Madison MOOCs.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison created the Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowship (WOECF) to engage with communities around the state. For its inaugural project, WOECF is funding four undergraduates who want to solve a particular problem in their hometowns this summer.

Applicants for the fellowship faced a unique challenge: they had to tie their proposals to a topic covered in one of three Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered this year by UW-Madison. The application required students to sign up for “The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold and Conservation,” “Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region,” or “Shakespeare in Community,” each of which addresses statewide concerns.

All four winners came up with creative projects that will touch lives back home.

Markets, parks, and camps

Kristen Bednar plans to develop a market in Cross Plains, drawing inspiration from the discussion of sustainability in “The Land Ethic Reclaimed.” The market will showcase area farmers and artisans, with an emphasis on locally grown produce.

Sarah Krier also uses “The Land Ethic Reclaimed” as a touchstone for her project with the YMCA’s Day Camp Daycroix in Hudson. Krier will develop a program for teaching kids about conservation, particularly the work of Wisconsin environmentalist Aldo Leopold. Leopold’s work was a major focus of the UW MOOC, which explored connections between hunting and conservation.

"The Land Ethic Reclaimed" explored the work of environmentalist Aldo Leopold.
“The Land Ethic Reclaimed” explored the work of environmentalist Aldo Leopold.

Andrew Strother finds yet another practical application for “The Land Ethic Reclaimed”: encouraging Kenosha residents to take advantage of a new local park. Strother will oversee a fishing clinic, lessons on outdoor recreation, and a workshop on sustaining area wildlife.

Taking a different approach, Laura Schmitt will use “Shakespeare in Community” as a basis for her project with the arts organization Mosaic Arts in Green Bay. Schmitt plans to help middle and high school students write essays, poems, and stories on topics inspired by Shakespeare. She’ll also coordinate with local media outlets and the arts festival Art Street to promote the students’ work.

Each fellow will receive a $3,000 stipend and up to $1,000 for project expenses. They’ll work with both a faculty mentor and their community partner organization. The partner organizations will receive $1,000 for participating in the fellowship, with mentors receiving $1,000 for supplies and expenses.

The Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowship is a collaboration of UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies, Educational Innovation, and Morgridge Center for Public Service. For more information about UW-Madison MOOCs, contact Lika Balenovich, Lika.Balenovich@wisc.edu, 608-890-2442. For more information about the WOECF project, contact David Lassen, dlassen@wisc.edu.