Looking at the MOOC Professionally and Educationally

I have maintained since 2012 that the MOOC would be more likely to have an impact of advancing professional learning than it would in advancing students towards a degree. If you want a degree, you still need to take classes at your institution online or on the ground, get passing grades and complete the degree program, That has not really changed.

In the workplace or outside your workplace on your own, a MOOC is a good way to advance you knowledge for free or inexpensively and advance your career.

A new report, billed as “the first longitudinal study of open online learning outcomes,” suggests that many learners credit MOOCs directly for pay raises, promotions and even academic progress. ("Impact Revealed: Learner Outcomes in Open Online Courses," appears in Harvard Business Review. ) Looking at learners who complete one of Coursera’s MOOCs, a majority of learners feel they benefit professionally and sometimes educationally from completing a MOOC. This study corroborates previous findings that more learners are using MOOCs to further their careers than their education.

It also reinforces earlier findings that those who benefit the most from these courses are learners that were more likely to be employed men in developed countries who had previously earned a degree. Also, those from less-advantaged backgrounds are most likely to benefit. 

That is quite different from the heyday of 2012 MOOC madness. The two narratives that got big media attention then were that 1) the MOOC will democratize higher education around the world   2)  MOOCs would revolutionize and possibly destroy universities, tuition and degree programs.  Unfortunately, that first idea has not come true on a large scale. And as far as #2, fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) that also has not happened.

On that second point, a number of studies, including one at the University of Pennsylvania using data collected from nine MOOCs offered by the university's Wharton School, show that they did not "cannibalize" the school's programs. Researchers found 78 percent of the more than 875,000 students who took the MOOCs resided outside the United States while the M.B.A. programs generally enroll a majority of students from the U.S. A plus was that the MOOCs also attracted more underrepresented minorities.

Further Reading: chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus


This post also appeared at www.linkedin.com

Connected Educator Month


Connected Educator Month (CEM) is October (hashtag #CE15) is an initiative that networks educators and education stakeholders through connected professional learning experiences worldwide. Over the past three years, millions of educators and others around the world have participated in hundreds of professional development and other educational opportunities.

This year’s celebration will focus on the following themes who will be led by the organizations listed below. ?Each theme will have a page dedicated to the activities and adventures they will lead during October.

Future Ready - Led by Cable Impacts FoundationHow do you make a school “future ready?”  What combination of infrastructure and devices, pedagogy and professional development, curriculum and content, leadership and culture will enable schools to effectively prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s challenges in college, career or civic life?  Explore the answers to these questions and the best tools and resources for helping schools make that future ready transformation.

Innovations in Assessment - Led by the National Council of Teachers of EnglishAssessment is something educators use daily to gauge what students are learning and inform how they teach. Assessments come in many different forms and serve different purposes. However, most public conversation around assessment tends to focus on state testing and its use for evaluating teachers and schools. How might we shift the conversation toward a more holistic and well-rounded understanding of how we can know what kids know and can do?

Social and Emotional Learning in School Settings - Led by a coalition of projects and Centers at American Institutes for ResearchResearchers continue to show the importance of supporting the development of children’s and youth’s social and emotional skills in school settings. As a result, education policymakers, district and school administrators, teachers, and popular media have invested greater attention to understanding, planning, and improving education systems that promote Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), a process through which children and youth develop and apply the requisite knowledge, attitudes, and skills that enable them to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make ethical decisions.

Broadening Participation in STEM Education - Led by the CS10K Community: In today’s global world, we need students with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Of particular importance is broadening participation in these fields by underrepresented populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, women, and students with disabilities. Connected education helps to level the playing field as teachers and students alike are able to leverage the power and potential of technology to strengthen their learning and collaboration with peers near and far. Join us as our partner organizations shine a light on the importance of STEM and connected learning.

Connected Learning in Time & Space - Led by Educator Innovator:  Powerful learning occurs when youth, driven by their own interests, are supported in being creators and not just consumers of knowledge. In this theme, we’ll focus on how we can create opportunities, time, and space for all youth to be agents in their own learning. In most learning spaces today, time and space are precious commodities, and learners, as well as their teachers and mentors, are challenged to find time to deepen learning through connecting passions and interests, personal or political, that cut across the different spheres of young learners lives. Join as we use Connected Learning principles to support the sharing of ideas and strategies throughout October and beyond.

Sparking Creativity & Curiosity in Students and Schools - Led by The Teachers GuildTeaching is the most human centered profession. So, let’s build on other’s creativity, and design new ways to light up curiosity in our classrooms and schools! Throughout the month, we invite you to collaborate and make each other’s ideas awesome. Join our collaboration, connect with other teachers, and design new solutions for your students and schools together.

Building Quality Beyond The Bell - Led by Beyond the Bell: Afterschool and expanded learning programs provide a place for young people to grow and learn during their out-of-school time. Research shows that high-quality afterschool programs lead to improvements in school performance, including decreased disciplinary incidences and improved school day attendance, course grades, and standardized test scores. In addition, participation in afterschool programs has been associated with improved socio-emotional skills and beliefs such as improved self-perception, interpersonal behaviors, and decision-making skills.

Innovations in Professional Learning - Led by ASCD: ASCD believes that effective professional development must be customized to the individual needs of a school or educator and focused on building professional capacity. Importantly, professional learning must be job-embedded – included in each educator’s day-to-day professional life – rather than limited to a few designated inservice days. Consistent innovation in the way professional learning is delivered and consumed can keep educators prepared to meet the goal of education: to prepare all students for a successful future.

3 Trends for the Future of Teaching and Learning

futureTo say you have an answer to the question  "What is the future of teaching and learning?" is a brave, or foolish, thing to do. So, let me start by saying that I don't have an answer of my own, but I will pass along and comment a bit on the three trends proposed by Steve Ferrara

He turned down an invitation to give the keynote address at an event in Nigeria (in order to be home for the birth of his grandson - good for you, Steve). His talk would have addressed the theme for the event - Next Generation Teaching and Learning, the Future of Learning. Steve runs Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network, the Center for NextGen Learning & Assessment.

Here are his 3 trends he thinks will shape the future of teaching and learning. All of them are things that have been shaping T&L already, but he sees greater impact from them in the future.

1) Teaching and learning processes will be based on learning science. 

2) Teaching will become more student-centered.

3) Higher order thinking skills, or 21st century skills, will be explicit parts of curriculum.

Thinking about #2, I would start by saying (as Ferrara does) that the idea of a teacher as a coach rather than a lecturer has been around for at least 20 years. As teachers spend class time talking in front of the classroom, they spend more time working individually with students who are also more independent. Textbooks online, learning sites, learning games, MOOCs and other tools allows teachers to be more like that "guide on the side."

I hope that Steve is correct in predicting that assessment via technology will be more naturally "embedded in teaching and learning and not added on and separate from those processes."


Extending a Transcript Beyond the Degree


An article this week in The Chronicle by Goldie Blumenstyk asks "Is a Degree Just the Beginning?" It is one of a number of articles they have grouped around the theme of "The Credentials Craze" which is introduced with: "A college degree isn't the only credential that matters anymore. As part of a growing movement to document students' knowledge and skills, an array of companies, industry groups, and colleges themselves are offering new types of credentials. "

I don't believe that most people in higher education have signed on to badges, certificates, and microdegrees whether they are earned in a course or via some other non-profit (most MOOCs, for example) or a for-profit company (a Coursera MOOC that is not free but carries credentials or a site like like Lynda.com).

There are still many issues surrounding credentials' validity and measurement, and I think the jury is still out on whether they help graduates seeking jobs.

Here is how Blumenstyk opens her article:

The idea of students graduating from college with just a diploma — a single academic credential — could soon seem downright quaint.

At some institutions, it already is. Community colleges in North Carolina encourage students to complete coursework while earning certifications from industry groups like the National Institute for Metalworking Skills and the National Aviation Consortium. At Lipscomb University, students can qualify for badges, endorsed by outside experts, to prove they have mastered skills such as "Active Listening" and "Drive and Energy." Students at Elon University get an "extended transcript" describing their nonacademic accomplishments.

Higher education is entering a new era, one in which some industry and nonacademic certifications are more valuable than degrees, transcripts are becoming credentials in their own right, and colleges are using badges to offer assurances to employers about students’ abilities in ways that a degree no longer seems to do. On top of the traditional academic and corporate players, a whole bunch of nonprofits and businesses are also jumping on — if not leading — the movement, including MOOC providers like Coursera and Udacity and so-called coding academies like General Assembly, Galvanize, and the Flatiron School.


Teaching Large To Massive Online Classes

large class

The terms MOOC, Massive Open Online Course, and LOOC, Large Open Online Course, may be relatively new, but large online courses have been around since the earliest days of online education.

The move to online is sometimes pedagogical, but probably too often it is is because of increased pressure on classroom spaces, and the desire to add more students and programs without expanding facilities on campus.

The Chronicle's ProfHacker column often writes about teaching online and sometimes about the perils of online teaching. Anastasia Salter posted this summer about her preparations to teach her first larger undergrad online course - one capped at 150 with no scheduled meeting time and no teaching or grading assistants.

She is starting with a) rethinking timetables and assignments. b) evaluating learning outcomes and substitutions for physical activities c) adopting strategies from MOOCs and other large-scale courses.

You can follow her progress as she works to convert her older syllabus from a smaller instance of the course, address particular assignment types, scheduling, learning outcomes etc.