An ambitious, University based, USDA sponsored research project investigating
the sustainable production and distribution of bioenergy and
bioproducts for the central U.S.

Frequently Asked Questions – CenUSA’S MOOC

By Amy Kohmetscher, Instructional Development Specialist, Ohio State University, Agricultural Technical Institute.

CenUSA has just launched a flexible learning opportunity, Introduction to Perennial Grasses for Biofuels, CenUSA Bioenergy’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). This Q & A provides some basic answers about what a MOOC is and how you can take the course.

What is a MOOC?
A MOOC or “Massive Open Online Course” is a course made available online for anyone with an internet connection, free of charge.  Being free of charge and available online expands the reach of the MOOC, allowing a broader audience to gain access to the course.

Who should take this MOOC?
The CenUSA Bioenergy MOOC is written for anyone ages 14 and up. No specific background is necessary to participate.  The course will appeal to those who are interested in exploring the value of perennial grasses, bioenergy, renewable fuels, and new cropping system opportunities.

While this MOOC can be used as an independent learning tool, it also provides pre-made modules available for science classroom curriculum or learning groups such as 4-H or FFA.

How do you sign up for the MOOC?
You can sign up for this MOOC by visiting and signing in, or by creating a new account.  Accounts are free and can be created using the email address of your choice.  You do not need to be affiliated with any specific organizations to participate.

How much does it cost?
The MOOC is FREE!  This course is provided free of charge with the help of the CenUSA Bioenergy grant project funded by USDA -NIFA.

What topics does this MOOC cover?
This course includes an introduction to perennial grasses as a feedstock, perennial grass growth and development, establishment of perennial grass stands, stand management, and biochar.

Will I have any fun while I’m taking this MOOC?
Yes!  This course is designed to allow you to learn on your own terms!  Feel like browsing some biochar information? Great!  Want to take all the quizzes to see what you already know? Wonderful!  Don’t feel like earning any badges? That’s great, too! Let curiosity be your guide as you work through the whole course or just the pieces that interest you.

How easy is this MOOC? Will it take a lot of time?
How much time this MOOC takes is entirely up to you!  This MOOC is self-tailored, so you can spend a little time to find out a few specific details, or you can dive in and systematically learn about each of the topics in depth. Each learner gets to set their own schedule.

Signing up is simple – that’s covered in another section.

What types of content are included in this MOOC?
Content varies in delivery method and depth, so there is something for every learning style and level of interest. There are videos, extension articles, lessons, published research articles, and quizzes.

Is there credit for taking this MOOC? What does a participant get?
Individuals who participate in the MOOC have free access to research-based information related to perennial grasses for biofuels. Similar to other MOOCs you may have taken; electronic completion badges are offered for completing activities.  These badges can be attached to a learner’s digital resume.

What is a digital resume?
A digital resume is an electronic account of your education, work history, and other skills.  Digital resumes can appear on business networking sites, or can be as simple as a PDF file uploaded to a website or database.  Some platforms allow for the attachment of digital badges.  Our badges are issued using the Moodle platform, which can be integrated with Mozilla Backpack to display digital badges.  If you do not use Mozilla Backpack, no problem!  Each time you earn a badge you will receive an email with a downloadable image of the badge.  You can attach or embed your badges in a digital resume as an image file.