Activity 12: MOOCs and faculty development

Background to MOOCs

Adapted from colourbox.com

Adapted from colourbox.com

In activity 12, we are asked to briefly consider if the MOOC approach could be adopted in our own area of education or training. My area of education/training is faculty development within the field of e-learning. I do courses and also provide help and guidance to teachers in relation to the design and delivery of blended learning and distance learning. How does each of the elements in the MOOC acronym relate to my context?

The COURSE element

Today, I deliver courses face-2-face. It’s a great way to inspire faculty and give them insight into e-learning. But it’s not quite enough. Teachers need to experiment with e-learning themselves, so right now the most important part of my job is to support teachers in the design and delivery of e-learning activities. The course element is necessary, though, to showcase different approaches to e-learning.

The ONLINE element

I don’t do any online courses yet. But it’s certainly an area that I would like to explore. It would make a lot of sense to start offering online courses since the activities at my university are distributed on 6 campus cities across the southern part of Denmark. I know that teachers struggle to get the time to attend courses. With online courses, they wouldn’t have to worry about time spent on travelling. And if a major part of activities are asynchronous, participation would be as flexible as possible. Being an online student themselves would give a lot of added value to the learning experience of teachers. They would get practical knowledge of both online learning processes and tools to support these.

The OPEN and MASSIVE elements

I think the open element would appeal to the teachers at my university and to university teachers in general. They would benefit from networking with teachers from other parts of the world and may find connections with similar interests. I find that the most rewarding learning comes from the exchange of ideas and experiences between teachers. Specific examples help illustrate important points.

Also the innovative pedagogical approaches associated with the “original” type of MOOCs would, I hope, inspire teachers to rethink their own teaching. I have been especially intrigued and drawn to the creative activities of MOOCs in which one has to visualise thoughts and ideas. Quite a challenging but also very rewarding type of learning activity that I would like to promote.

Finally, there’s the open as in use and reuse of OER. Introducing MOOCs in the context of faculty development would also mean exposing teachers to OER which again might inspire teachers to explore the use of OER themselves.

I’m a bit worried about the massive element. Teachers often tell me that any course or training that they engage in must be very specific and on target with respects to their particular context, otherwise they will not spend the time needed. However, in a MOOC, it’s very much up to the learner to set personal learning goals and pursue these by engaging in the proposed learning activities and by cultivating a personal learning network. So I think, there would have to be a lot of initial scaffolding and support of teachers, so that they can participate comfortably and meaningfully.