By Bob Wise
In a time of financial cutbacks, schools and districts have slashed professional development budgets at an alarming rate despite new education standards and assessments and increased demands on teachers and students. Instead of waiting with crossed fingers for a full economic recovery that will restore budgets, innovators in the education field are exploring new ways to meet the professional development needs of teachers in an economical way. Enter the Massive Open Online Course for Educators, or MOOC-Ed. The MOOC-Ed is an online course for educators that provides personalized, scalable, and flexible learning to improve teaching and student outcomes.
The buzzword “MOOC” is already loaded. Students, educators, and education pundits hold different views on the extremely popular new approach to digital learning that, in the cases of many colleges and universities, provides course credits to students. Many of these views are negative, citing a lack of definitive research on the effectiveness of MOOCs improving student learning and outcomes. This is true; MOOCs are relatively new inventions for student courses, and while I strongly believe they have the potential to help bridge achievement gaps and income disparities for students, conclusive research to support this doesn’t yet exist. While the debate continues around the effectiveness of MOOCs for student learning, I want to focus on a different kind of MOOC — one designed for educators as a cost-effective way to deliver quality professional development and help educators continue their education.
My organization, the Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance), paired up with the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University (the Friday Institute) earlier this year, to offer the first-ever MOOC-Ed — Digital Learning Transition — geared toward school, district, and teacher leaders. In creating, monitoring, and engaging with participants in the course, we learned a few things about what makes MOOC-Eds successful and necessary for professional development in the twenty-first century. Based on those lessons learned, we’ve improved the MOOC-Ed and are running it again this fall. Registration is open here. The MOOC-Ed is free and open to the public.
MOOC-Eds offer self-directed learning with content that can be tailored and personalized to an educator’s specific goals. Think of a MOOC-Ed like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book. The MOOC-Ed creators aggregate resources and tailor them for any type of participant, e.g., a school administrator may choose to watch videos and read articles on districts that have been successful with digital learning, while a teacher leader may focus on using data to more effectively personalize instruction. In this way, the courses are self-directed, and participants choose among a rich array of resources, and decide when and how to engage in projects and discussions that will further their own goals.
[ Full article available at The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-wise/mooceds-bring-professional_b_3991308.html ]