MSUToday
Published: Oct. 9, 2014

MSU to expand global reach with launch of food knowledge cloud

Contact(s): Layne Cameron Media Communications office: (517) 353-8819 cell: (765) 748-4827 Layne.Cameron@cabs.msu.edu, Christine Geith MSU Global office: (517) 353-0856 geith@msu.edu, Teal Amthor-Shaffer office: (517) 353-1964 amthorsh@msu.edu

Michigan State University launched the Food Knowledge Cloud, a new educational portal that will offer open-access courses and resources to students around the globe.

MSU will build on its successful massive open online course on food fraud as a foundation for its education portal, which has opened registration for multiple food-related MOOCs.

"MSU has a strong and incredibly diverse global network of food systems experts that positions the university to lead the conversation in addressing food-related issues," said Christine Geith, assistant provost and executive director of MSU Global.

The portal is powered by EdCast, a Silicon Valley online education platform provider, and supported by Open EdX, software created by MIT and Harvard University.

"With EdCast, MSU is on the cutting edge with the next-generation learning platform that can scale to enable millions of students to benefit from MSU's extensive network of food systems experts," said Karl Mehta, CEO of EdCast.

Enrollment is now open for MSU's initial offerings, and additional, self-paced learning resources also are available:

  • Food Fraud Preview – Preventing food fraud, the act of defrauding buyers of food or ingredients for economic gain, is a growing problem. Stopping it can improve domestic productivity due to fewer illnesses, increased production of safe food for domestic consumption and a higher value for safer export product. This is an archive of the course led by John Spink, MSU food fraud initiative director.
  • Food Fraud – Registration is open for the Nov. 3-28 offering of this course, with live webinars and threaded discussions led by Spink. The latest information about and most timely examples of food fraud will be incorporated.
  • Food Safety Practices for the Food Industry – This archive of learning resources, aimed at industry professionals working in quality assurance, covers the complex challenges of producing safer food throughout the supply chain on a global basis.
  • Basic Food Safety – The global nature of food supply means that food safety is now an international issue. This self-paced course developed by the MSU Food Safety Knowledge Network walks participants through the measures that should be taken to handle and preserve food quality.
  • Urban Agriculture – Registration is open for the course, which will run from Nov. 3 to Dec. 19. The course will be led by John Stone, manager of Research and Engagement for the Global Innoversity Program in Metro Food at MSU, which increases awareness of metropolitan agriculture.

The need for a broader offering of food-based resources is reflected by how well MSU's first food fraud MOOC resonated, Geith said. The course generated many requests for in-person executive courses, netted corporate sponsorship from Wal-Mart to translate the course into Mandarin as well as additional support from Perkin-Elmer, a lab equipment company, to support future classes.

MOOCs are just the beginning, Geith said.

"We see our Food Knowledge Cloud as an engagement platform, of which MOOCs are one product," she said. "We envision an expanded suite of services ranging from research dissemination, to events like webinars and short, non-credit courses and more as this global community grows."

MSU unveils Food Knowledge Cloud. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz

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