I have been far too ambitious in my MOOC aspirations of late, I won’t say I am a failure at MOOCs just a MOOC overdoer. This all came to reality, for me, when I looked at my Coursera course page and realized I was signed up for four MOOCs that were all running simultaneously For me, at least, there seemed to be some overlap.
I will describe the MOOCs I am enrolled in, identify why I think that MOOCs have been successful, and an observation or two on how I think they can be improved.
The four with some description and reason why I enrolled are listed here:
1. Art and Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies For Your Classroom: Intended for teachers (Grades 4-12) from all disciplines, this course will introduce ways to integrate works of art into your classroom by using inquiry-based teaching methods commonly used in museum settings.
This course has since ended and I did not get to participate in it as much as I would have liked. I did get to read some of the background materials, listen to some lectures, and participate in the forums. This course is somewhat out of my area of interest, however I did gain some good insight on how to create activity and engagement in the classroom. While this course may have been focused on K-12 I did think there were some good transferrable insights that would work in any classroom. I also like the approach of teaching art, communication and critical thinking at an early age using inquiry based teaching/learning. Furthermore I think there is great value in our education utilizing resources such as museums to broaden the student’s base of knowledge. If this course comes up again I would recommend it.
2. John Hopkins University; University Teaching 101
The Course description states:
Not too long ago, it was believed that anyone who graduated from a doctoral program was capable of teaching. In recent years, however, it has become apparent that teaching is not an intuitive behavior. In addition to content, teaching also involves a complex intellectual process, and to develop the “art” of teaching, professors require guidance and support. As the roles and responsibilities of university-level educators have evolved and expanded in recent years, the preparation of emerging university faculty leaders must focus on the development of the knowledge, skills, and strategies for teaching and learning in higher education. This short course is designed to introduce the strategies and exemplars of university teaching skills necessary to meet these new professional demands for teaching at a university level.
This course is now starting its third week. I am working my way through listening to the lectures. I do find some overlap between what this course is presenting and the Art of Inquiry, there seems to be some emphasis on inquiry as a learning/teaching process. The lectures, delivered by Dean David Matthews Dr. Pam Jeffries, in the first week the focus is on best practices. They also bring other faculty who are “Master Teachers” and present their exemplary practices. They focus on the seven principles of good practices of Chickering and Goodson:
Good practice in undergraduate education:
Encourages contacts between students and faculty.
Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students.
Uses active learning techniques.
Gives prompt feedback.
Emphasizes time on task.
Communicates high expectations.
Respects diverse talents and ways of learning.
3. Commonwealth Education Trust: Foundations of Teaching and Learning
According to the course description this is a:
course focused on planning for teaching and learning. We hope you will find this to be an engaging and challenging professional learning experience. In the courses leading up to this one, you have explored important aspects of teaching and learning including what we know and don’t know about learning, the impact of assessment on learning and what makes a good school to name but a few.
I am just starting to review the materials for this course.
4. University of Wisconsin-Madison Globalizing Higher Education for the ‘Knowledge Economy”
Universities and higher education systems worldwide are being transformed by new and changing actors, practices, programs, policies, and agendas. From notions of ‘global competency’ and ‘international branch campuses,’ to ever more common perceptions that international collaborative research is a desirable objective, through to the phenomena of bibliometrics, rankings and benchmarking that are framed and operate at a global scale, contexts are changing.
I have not been particularly successful at MOOCs lately and I think that is due to a variety of reasons, in fact I would speculate that MOOCs maybe victims of their own success. What do I mean by this? I will use myself as an example. My personal interests and my professional interests are at odds with one another. Here are my personal interests:
1. How to eat healthy and be healthy
2. Digital art and photoshop
In the case of health I have been actively finding youtube videos, reading materials, and seeking other resources on health. This is my personal learning goals, it consumes a lot of time. If I find an interesting video on youtube I will download it on my Kindle and watch it while I workout on an elliptical.
Digital Art and photoshop, practice makes perfect. I have been at this for years, I have forgotten more than I now know…its evolving. I read books watch youtube videos, etc., I thoroughly enjoy and lose track of time when I am playing with Photoshop.
I am very interested in local and regional history, whether that is where I am from or where I am now. I collect and read regional history books.
These various project motivate and inspire me. Because of MOOCs many entities are pushing information, education, and sharing resources on the web. We can develop our own personal learning plans in what interests us, what enriches us and for fun.
That isn’t to say that the professional development courses that I find on Coursera aren’t important, they provide essential information for success. I have only had a few courses that focused on teaching and best practices in teaching so I am always thrilled to have access to those who teach, their experiences and knowledge and MOOCs are powerful tools for that sharing.
I participated in my first MOOC in 2008 or 2009. It was a great experience and great expanded my knowledge. I spent a time every day on the MOOC and felt I was successful. As I was analyzing my experience I asked myself what was different about the MOOCs of today versus that early MOOC (facilitated by Stephen Downes, George Siemens, and Dave Cormier), and the answer came to me. We received a daily newsletter or update. Every morning when I got up I the newsletter / update was in my email inbox. it provided links to pertinent resources, feedback to the participants, and blog postings that students had submitted. These engagement kept me focused and on track, I loved it! I imagine it was a lot of work for whoever was tasked with putting it together … but if MOOCs could integrate that into their structure or learning management system somehow, even make it student driven, it would help a great deal.
So that is where I am with MOOCs. I believe MOOCs have had amazing success especially because they have forced us to open the doors to accessing knowledge and learning freely and openly! I love MOOCs!