MOOCS: An Alternative to Professional Development and Lifelong Learning

What do you think the future of MOOCs is? What about mobile learning?Are these things you feel are going to be beneficial or will there be a backlash?

Richard Ferdig’s (2014) insight on how the rapid explosion of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCS) continues to transform online learning within higher ed and professional development programs is thought provoking. The MOOC K12 phenomenon presents leadership with emerging issues and challenges regarding the quality of online instruction and the rapid need to transform K12 institutions to embrace 21st century learning communities. It is important for K12 teachers and leaders to engage in the MOOC world and enroll in a few MOOCS to gain an understanding and perspective on the future of online education. Ferdig’s (2014) research is correct to point out three findings, which is intended to assist in integrating technology appropriately to meet such challenges.

  1. Not all MOOCS are created equally.  Connected learning principles, cMOOCS , focus on knowledge creation, collaboration, and generation. xMOOCS, however, concentrate on knowledge dissemination. It is highly important that curriculum leaders, who in my opinion should be highly skilled in educational technology, evaluate MOOCS. Does the MOOC employ an instructional model aligning to pedagogical beliefs? Is feedback produced within the MOOC environment? How is learning accessed? 
  2. MOOC participants are self starters, or self directed learners, which means the motivation element exists. How would this look in a K12 environment? Interactivity is a huge consideration. Peer support can assist in providing interactivity.
  3. MOOCS facilitate conversations, engaging a very diverse audience, which can deepen the learning experience.

Will MOOCS replace face to face institutions or online learning university programs? MOOC completion rates are low, as MOOCS are free. Students enrolled in a for credit course pay to attend school, which includes an economic motivator that is perhaps missing within the current MOOC environment (Billsberry 2013). All 21st century instructors will need to up their game and become top instructors, as students now have options. How can this be accomplished? Improved online instruction can exist with instructors improving conversation,  facilitating and providing feedback in a timely fashion. Students will have the ability to preview what they pay for. Will MOOCS hurt postsecondary and for profit professional development organizations? My assessment is that MOOCS will push faculty, K12 instructors and leaders to become better. MOOCS will continue to provide equal access to knowledge and improve the overall online learning environment. This will continue to push the world into a new era, as knowledge will be attainable for the first time in third world counties. This could mean that K12 US education will need to refocus efforts on new ways to improve academic motivation as US students will now compete with a more educated global world. It is very unlikely that universities will begin closing their doors. However, maybe it is time for universities and K12 institutions to hire faculty and teachers who have a strong background in learning theory, instructional design, and ed tech. Serious conversations within K12 institutions on the purpose of why we are really here will need to be continued. Students will now have more options and school choices via online platforms to select a pathway to help them obtain a job, particularly secondary students. MOOCS will push all educational environments to reconsider approaches to meet student needs and skill sets needed in the 21st century.

Billsberry, J. (2013). MOOCs: Fad or Revolution? Journal of Management Education, 37(6), 739–746. doi:10.1177/1052562913509226

Ferdig, R. E. (2014). PREPARING FOR K-12 MOOCS. Tech & Learning, 34(6), 26-27.

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About instructionaltechnologist101

Instructional Technologist 1 to 1, Avid change agent, Mac Enthusiastic, Implemented K12 1:1 program, managed offsite curriculum center in community museum, learner, PhD student in Educational Technology at University of North Texas. The future is now! www.why-steam.com

Posted on April 28, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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