Tri-C Launches Massive Open Online Course To Target Students Needing Remedial Math

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New sessions starting May 6 and June 3

  Thanks to a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) is working on a national problem:  getting high school college students ready for college-level math.

Tri-C recently became the first community college in the nation to launch a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) — free online classes to help high school students pass developmental math, also known as remedial math, before they enter college.

Four-week MOOC sessions will be offered May 6-June 1 and June 3-June 29 at no cost through Tri-C. For information on how to register to take the MOOC, go to

MOOCs, which are a recent development in distance learning, have the potential to make high-quality learning content freely available over the Internet for large numbers of individuals.

MOOCs were first embraced and promoted by Ivy League institutions and have expanded to other institutions. Tri-C’s MOOC is a first for the College and was developed with help from the Gates Foundation to attack the problems of unprepared college students. Nationwide, more than a third of entering college students are required to take developmental math before they are allowed to take the college-level courses needed to obtain their associate and bachelor degrees.

According to Dr. Sandy Robinson, Vice President, Academic Affairs at Cuyahoga Community College, “Our goal in designing the Developmental Mathematics MOOC is to leverage the College’s experience in subject matter and online learning to expedite the transition into mainstream college coursework for massive numbers students.”

Tri-C’s MOOC course is also open, at no cost, to students of all ages, including high school students preparing for college readiness, middle-aged workers returning to college to prepare for a new career and to middle-school students working ahead at Pre-Algebra.

For college students, it can save time and a semester or more of remedial college work, which can use up Federal Aid taking credits that do not count towards a degree.  As a result of successfully completing the MOOC, students can expect to test into higher-level math coursework, possibly even college-level math.

This course was developed using an innovative design to improve student engagement.  The MOOC leverages game mechanics to motivate students’ progress through the course.  In order to move to each level, the student must score 80% or better. If they do not score appropriately, they can go back to watch the videos and take the challenge again. They may do so as many times as is needed, creating a unique, low-risk failure environment.

Tri-C’s developmental math MOOC was enabled through generous funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“MOOCs are an exciting innovation.  They hold great promise, but are not without challenges – and we are still discovering their full potential,” said Dan Greenstein, director of Postsecondary Success at the Gates Foundation. “We believe having diverse options for faculty and students that meet a wide array of learning needs and styles can enhance student engagement, improve educational outcomes, and increase college completion rates.  We are eager to learn from and share the data that will be generated from these investments in MOOCs.”

The Gates Foundation grant to Tri-C was one of 10 grants awarded last year to institutions to determine whether MOOCs can be adapted for developmental and introductory courses.The grants are also designed to make such content available and accessible to a broader range of learners and to see how they might be integrated into classroom practice in order to support completion and lower costs.

Tri-C worked with CourseSites™ by Blackboard a free, fully hosted, cloud-based course creation and facilitation service that leverages Blackboard’s latest technologies, as the learning management system and student/faculty communication tool.

The pilot sessions of the MOOC have had 233 students enrolled.

Cuyahoga Community College is continually looking at ways of improving the online learning environment. The College utilizes new and effective, technology-enabled methods of teaching and learning that focus on student success and engagement by increasing learning productivity and ultimately improving degree completion.  In improving the online learning environment, Tri-C leverages Open Educational Resources as well as new, eLearning 2.0-based tools to encourage rich interaction and engagement in virtual environments, contributing to greater student success.

Remember, at, prospective students can find information about how to register to take the MOOC for free.

  • Session 3: May 6 – June 1

  • Session 4: June 3 – June 29

For more information, contact the Tri-C Office of eLearning & Innovation at 216-987-4912.


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