MOOCs for Teacher CPD

What is available?

MOOC word cloudMOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses have been all the rage for the past few years with some claiming that they will disrupt our existing model of higher education and open education to the masses. Well that has not happened as yet but they are certainly opening up new opportunities for learning, particularly for professionals and that includes teachers.

We must remember that MOOCs are relatively new and that 2012 is often viewed as the Year of the MOOC, so we are really only at the beginning of this journey. Even the notion of what is a MOOC is still evolving and only last year OpenUpEd, is an open, non-profit partnership offering MOOCs, defined them as having four elements:

  • It has to cater for a large number of participants (M) 
  • It should be accessible by anyone, anywhere as long as they have an internet connection (O) 
  • It should be online (O) 
  • It should constitute a unit of study (C) (typically between 1 and 4 ECTs credits)

A number of consortia are now leading the way in offering MOOCs free to the world and all you need to access their courses is a computer and an internet connection. The big three MOOCs are edX, Coursera and FutureLearn. edX is a partnership between Harvard and MIT, while Coursera is a Stanford company and FutureLearn is an initiative of the Open University. All three have many interesting courses on a wide range of topics apart from education – so check it out.

There are many myths around MOOCs and we need to ensure we don’t overhype their role within education, but they can provide access to high-quality learning materials and communities of learners. One area that is attracting attention in relation to MOOCs is their use for teacher professional development. A 2014 Times Higher Education Article by Diana Laurillard had the following to say:

“The model has value for professional development, providing a forum for the dissemination, discussion and development of up-to-date ideas. It could even be used to help academics, teachers and policymakers make technology work in education, and develop effective ways of tackling that huge unmet demand for higher education.”

A number of professions, including Law and Medicine, are already exploring how they can incorporate MOOCs into their existing professional development offerings to support professional learning. So if you haven’t checked out any of the MOOC sites listed above take some time and browse their course offerings as their might be something there for you. The scope of courses is extremely wide and it offers you access to some of the best faculty in the world in a wide range of disciplines.

Courses you might consider

Here are some courses that are currently underway, or about to start in the coming weeks, that might interest you and these are just ones that interested me, but there is much more out there. So take some time and explore the world of MOOCs and consider how they might help you develop as a professional.

Scratch MOOC

21st Century Skills MOOC

And some that are starting soon

ICT in Primary MOOC

Robotics MOOC

Join the MOOC

Final Word

This is only the tip of the iceberg and there are many courses out there that Irish teachers can participate in on any topic under the sun. I have only selected a couple of ICT courses to illustrate what is out there. Like most things, you will get out of these courses what you put in so go and enjoy yourself and do some learning.

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