Smithfield Herald

JCC debuts free online course

Johnston Community College debuted its first massive open online course, or MOOC, this summer.

Since May 29, JCC has offered “Transitioning to Windows 8 and the New Office” to anyone interested in learning about the new Microsoft products. Eric Schmieder, who teaches computer technology at JCC, developed the 10-week course, which remains open and continues through Aug. 20.

An instructional trend in higher education, MOOCs deliver course content free online to anyone who wants to take the course, with no limits on the number of students.

By offering the Windows course as an MOOC, JCC is able to reach students, faculty, and corporate employees who need to know how to use the new Microsoft operating system and applications on their home or office computers, Schmieder said. “Students and instructors need to know how to use these new products,” he said. “As an educator, I saw the need to support them, and I felt compelled to create this course.”

Schmieder, who has written a textbook on Office 365, worked with Blackboard’s CourseSites to develop the open-access course. In addition to creating course content, monitoring weekly discussion forums and developing a course blog, Schmieder is also offering a weekly live session to allow students o ask questions in real time.

Schmieder designed the content with North Carolina community college instructors and students in mind, but he says anyone interested in learning the material can benefit from the course.

The course has attracted more than 400 students with various backgrounds and from diverse nations, including Africa, Scotland, Puerto Rico and Egypt, to name a few.

“You are interacting with students from all around the world; that’s one of the best things about MOOCs,” Schmieder said. “It’s been fascinating to see where people are coming from and the questions they are asking.”

The course will remain open for anyone interested in a self-paced study of the material. To sign up, go to