MOOCs are primarily used for informal learning, which calls for flexibility
and highly modularized content so that learners can pick and choose
what is most applicable to them.
explore topics such as social media, digital citizenship, and
investigation skills through probing questions, sharing of
experiences, and hands-on projects. In one module, participants shared experiences related to digital identity and
went on to track their own digital footprints online. They
then applied this information to school policies and classroom activities. Teachers can use this inquiry process in
their own classrooms as well.
Teachers may also need guidance in how to participate
in peer-driven learning. Last year, Peer 2 Peer University
(P2PU), a grassroots organization offering free, open-licensed opportunities to learn almost anything, started its
School of Education for K– 12 teachers. P2PU has offered 25
courses on topics ranging from differentiating instruction
to e-portfolios for teachers, with relatively small groups and
a high level of facilitator and participant interaction.
Initially, organizers found that many participants weren’t
comfortable with a participatory, peer-driven style of
learning. Some teachers said it was very different from
their past professional development experiences, which
were delivered top-down in a manner that didn’t involve
active participation. In response, a group at P2PU put together Empower Your Personal Learning to explore why
and how teachers might take control of their own learning.
Renshaw values P2PU’s collaborative context, diversity
of voices, and rich potential. As the P2PU teacher community grows, conversations are developing that spawn new
courses and groups.
Another course that offers participants unique opportunities to both connect with others and engage in hands-on
activities is Digital Storytelling (DS106), developed by Jim
Groom, director of the Division of Teaching and Learning
Technologies and adjunct professor at the University of
Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA. This
course was not specifically geared toward teachers but has
developed a following in the education community.
DS106 is offered as a face-to-face course for credit at the
university but is also open to anyone online. This option
has attracted thousands of participants, including students
at other institutions who have taken it. One unique feature
of DS106 is a large assignment bank that students can
choose from and submit ideas to. DS106 uses a unique
model of network aggregation to compile student submissions of work, including audio, video, and photography
projects, prompting broad sharing and collaboration.
These activities, along with the intensive support of course
facilitators, create a strong feeling of community.
Continued from page 15.
A sense of community is a critical factor in the success
of MOOCs for teachers and must be built over time and
sustained through ongoing participation.
“Community can’t be created course by course,” Carson
says. Participants should seek online communities that persist, are strong, and align with their own interests and goals.
The Future of MOOCs
MOOCs are here to stay! The larger xMOOCs will
see experimentation in the areas of adaptive instruction
and automated assessment. New partnerships with traditional universities are likely to explode. For-profit MOOC
providers will also try different business models to bring
At the same time, cMOOCs will also thrive. While their
enrollment numbers will not be as high as xMOOCs, their
impact may be as great, particularly among specialized
communities, such as educators. For teachers’ professional
learning, a hands-on, highly participatory environment is
likely to be the most effective approach.
While some critics express concern about the high
“dropout” rate among students who participate in MOOCs,
this may not be the right frame of reference. MOOCs are
primarily used for informal learning, which calls for flexibility and highly modularized content so that learners can
pick and choose what is most applicable to them. In the
future, MOOCs will need to offer learners more choices for
how to participate.
Traditional educational institutions will need to consider
what, if any, part they want to play in the MOOC space
and how they can best serve their on-campus learners as
well as the broader universe of potential students.
“Why should education be this box with 18 people in a
classroom?” Levine asks. “It’s a good opportunity to re-
think and experiment with how learning happens.”
For lifelong learners, MOOCs offer unprecedented op-
portunities. Every educator should participate in or lead
a MOOC to appreciate this new form of learning and to
bring its strongest benefits to their own classrooms, Rob-
erts says. Everyone benefits where there are so many new
learning opportunities available.
Karen Fasimpaur works with schools to integrate mobile technology into the curriculum to enhance learning. She is also an evangelist for open education, an award-winning author, and a blogger.