Best Practices for Instructors: Assigning an Esri MOOC to Students

Blog Post created by ASchutzberg-esristaff Employee on Oct 17, 2017

Educators from all over the world have assigned high school, college and graduate students to complete all or part of an Esri MOOC as part of their coursework. We at Esri are pleased to have these students join our massive open online courses!


If you are an instructor exploring using a MOOC as part of assigned coursework, please review these best practices to ensure your students are successful.


1. Complete the MOOC before assigning it to your students.


I strongly encourage you to complete any MOOC you plan to use in a course before assigning it to your students. That way, you can confirm you know how the course works and that it covers relevant material. If that is not possible, I encourage you to take the course along with the students so you can tackle the content together.


2. Communicate to students that they are responsible for meeting course deadlines.


MOOCs are run on schedules and each course has a list of Dates to Remember. You and your students need to understand and stay ahead of registration and course deadlines.


3. Ensure students register before registration closes.


Students  register for each MOOC by logging in to the Esri training site with their Esri credentials. Registration closes two weeks after a course opens. We are unable to add students to a current offering after the registration cutoff date.


When a student successfully registers, the course will appear on the student's My Schedule page. If a student registers within the first two weeks of the course, the student may start the course immediately, but there there will be up to a two business day delay for course accounts to be set up.


We send an e-mail on the course start date to registered students but we encourage students to put course start and end dates and the My Schedule URL on their personal calendars. 


4. Emphasize the need to differentiate between, and document, the two sets of course credentials.


Students will use both an Esri account (which they may already have) and an ArcGIS Online account (which we provide) for our MOOCs. You as instructor should be familiar with these types of credentials and encourage students to document them. We provide a table in Section 1 Exercise 1 of each course to guide students in this important step.


5. Encourage students to help one another and their fellow online students.


Make sure you and students know where to go for help.


For help with course exercises, students should:

  • read the course Common Questions for the course (accessible on the Help tab when logged in to the course)
  • be familiar with how to search, post and answer question in the forum
  • if needed, use the form at the bottom of that Common Questions page to ask a specific question that is not answered in the common questions or the forum


For help with general MOOC or account questions, students should:

  • visit this Help page (accessible when not logged in)
  • use the form at the bottom of the Help page for questions that are not answered


6. Know requirements for a student to receive a Certificate of Completion.


Students can earn a certificate by “touching” all the course content. A student can do that without learning anything or completing a single hands-on exercise.  


Some courses open all of the course content when the course begins. In that case, students can "binge" and complete the certificate in hours or days. Other courses open new content each week. In that case students must wait for the final content to be available to complete the certificate.


To confirm students complete specific exercises or learning objectives, you may want students to send a link to a finished map or provide a screenshot of an analysis. You may also assign your own exercise/assessment that students will complete using the provided software during the course.


7. Plan for student ArcGIS Online accounts, their content, and associated software licenses to “disappear” when the course is over.


The temporary course ArcGIS Online accounts and any content saved in them are deleted two weeks after the course end date.  Software licenses associated with the course accounts (ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Business Analyst Web App, etc.) will be revoked after that date.


If you or your students want to use the maps, apps and other products created within the course exercises after the course ends, arrange to move them to permanent ArcGIS Online organizational accounts.


The tools below can help you move content from one ArcGIS Online organizational account to another. 


A "Swiss Army Knife" for your ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS accounts

ArcGIS Online Assistant


GEO Jobe GIS Consulting

Admin Tools for ArcGIS Online


8. Use your school’s own ArcGIS Online accounts to complete the exercises if possible.


Students in some MOOCs may now use existing ArcGIS Pro licenses and ArcGIS Online organizational accounts to complete the course content (see Section 1 for details). If your institution has access to such licenses and accounts, I encourage you to use these school accounts. When students use these school-based licenses and accounts, any content students build will be available after the course ends.


9. Point Students to the "How to Be Successful" Document


I wrote How to Succeed in an Esri MOOC for students (all students, not just those who were assigned a MOOC by an instructor) to help them be successful.


10. Contact me.


If you need help related to using a MOOC in a course, please contact me directly at