It caught my attention in an article from EDUCAUSE that surveys of 11 MITx courses offered on edX in spring 2014 found that one in four (28%) of the respondents self-identified as past or present teachers.
Of course, being that it is a "massive" course, those teachers are only 4.5 percent of the nearly 250,000 enrollees. But those teachers generated 22.4 percent of all discussion forum comments.
One of the exciting things about teaching a MOOC or being a student in one is that the participants often come from the diverse backgrounds.
This look at the presence of teachers in MOOCs suggests that we might want to offer topics for teachers more often and perhaps utilize those teachers when we teach a MOOC.
The MOOC I facilitated on Canvas Network in 2013 was called "Academia and the MOOC" and was intended to attract teachers as well as others in academic roles (instructional designer, support staff, administration and student).
We critiqued some case studies of successful and "failed" MOOCs that have been offered and considered how MOOCs might impact those roles and an institution. By design, I wanted to use the participants' collective professional experience.
The article discussed a massive course that precedes the first MOOCs by about 50 years. In 1958, an introductory physics course called "Atomic-Age Physics" was offered by NBC's Continental Classroom on free broadcast TV. It was estimated that the course/program had a daily viewership of about 250,000 people. It even had 300+ institutions partnering to offer varying levels of accreditation for the course - something modern MOOCs are just starting to do.
Who was this physics on air course reaching? Most were just people with an interest in modern physics, but a good number of the participants were teachers who were upgrading their science background. There were about 5,000 participants who were certified in the first year. Continental Classroom offered more courses and it was an early use of technology, distance learning or ITV (instructional television) with teachers as a targetted audience.
If a substantial number of teachers are on MOOC rosters then we should be considering, as the article suggests, that we create "expert-novice pairings in courses, networking educators around pedagogy or reusable content, and generally tailoring courses to satisfy the needs of teachers." MOOCs offer an opportunity for teacher professional development.
Coursera has already launched a "teacher professional development" series and edX announced a professional development initiative focusing on advanced placement high school courses.
How having significant numbers of educators in a MOOC may impact the other participants and the course design sounds like a good area for future research.