MOOCS: A Personal View
MOOCs are massive online open courses. They carry no cost or entry requirements, are available online, have no attendance restrictions and can be studied on an anytime-anywhere basis. The term originates from a course that was offered at the University of Manitoba in 2008 and that attracted a large number of online participants.
MOOCs tend to adopt a similar design, with materials being available in a range of formats, accompanied by recommended readings, an opportunity to collaborate with other learners and some form of assessment.
The Open University in the UK is a major provider of open online courses through its OpenLearn and FutureLearn programmes. The latter was launched in November 2013 in partnership with a number of universities.
At a school level generally such developments are rare.
I recently undertook a MOOC from FutureLearn. Called World War 1: A History in 100 Stories, it was delivered by Monash University in Australia. Based on introductions, approximately 145 learners enrolled on the course.
It was a five week course and the elements within each weekly module included:
- Video introductions, interviews with well known experts, recordings from historical locations
- Embedded presentations
- Forum collaboration with other learners
- Quiz and a collaborative exercise for assessment purposes
From a personal perspective my historical knowledge of the topic increased; my understanding of MOOC design improved; there were good opportunities to network with other students globally. The opportunity to access the course anywhere-anytime (on the train into Glasgow in the morning) supported and improved my learning.
Are their opportunities to benefit from MOOCs in mainstream education?
The Association for Educational Assessment organised a MOOC workshop in Glasgow on November 5th 2015. The focus of the workshop was the use of MOOCs to up-skill teachers in assessment methodology and methods. There were presentations by Norwegian, Swedish and Australian colleagues.
The Norwegian approach to a national teacher MOOC appears to be fairly well developed:
– it was directed by the Norwegian Directorate for Education (i.e. it’s a central government approach)
– it was designed and moderated by Lillehammer University
– 23 000 teachers had enrolled on the MOOC and 20% of had currently completed the full course
– the MOOC could be customised at a local level by school leaders/headteachers to meet the needs of a specific context
– the MOOC had been established as a cost effective way of supporting teacher development on a national scale
What are the opportunities to benefit from MOOCs in mainstream education?
Senior Education Officer
Digital Learning and Teaching
PS My next MOOC will be: