MOOCs for K-12 – Are you ready?

Are we ready to adopt MOOC in K-12 education?

No, I don’t think we are ready yet.

I have posted here in 2008 on the application of Connectivism in K-12 and Higher Education, based on an institutional approach.  I have left with more questions than answers:

Surely with the CCK08, if 2 “teachers” could serve 2000 plus learners, do you think there is a need to employ more teachers/moderators in mass open on-line courses?  Will open on-line courses be the future?  Will everyone become a teacher in those “courses” or networks?  How about the accreditation?  Will such courses be recognised nationally and internationally?  Will networks such as community of practice be the education campfire? What will be the educational landscape of the future?
What will be the role of the professors/teachers in higher education?  Are they still the way finders for learners?  Who will be holding the authority/power in education and learning?  Is power an issue?  Where will these changes lead us to – emergent knowledge, learning, education?  A bright future?
And the questions go on….

Chester asks if MOOC be adopted in k-12 education:

Which got me thinking: Why not MOOCs in K–12 education, too—for the kids, not just their teachers? Why is this not another form of on-line or blended learning with huge potential to foster equity, acceleration, individualization, choice, and much else that we prize in the elementary-secondary sector?

We already have virtual charter schools in many places and several state-provided counterparts such as the Florida Virtual School. We have online providers of specific courses (see Apex Learning, for example). Home-schoolers can access multiple options. And we have more and more schools seeking to blend on-line offerings into their brick-and-mortar classrooms.

I posted on FB, and Mary Rearick and Ana Cristina Pratas also made their comments.

My comments here:

I think small scale of OOC structured with a “duty of care” is important if it is to be designed for k-12, and must be exercised with more cautions, due to the huge risks involved. Educators and professors should take it seriously, as it is not about making money, but growing people, though a business approach – with vision, mission, business strategies and action plans would be needed to adequately manage both the educational and administrative functions.

The challenges are just too much for individual educators to take up, and so strong leadership and sound support are required to ensure it would be run smoothly. Besides, if this involves accreditation of the course unit, close monitoring of the learning process based on facilitation, learning analytics and follow up/feedback mechanism would be mandatory to prevent problems of drop-out, trolling or bullying etc. This isn’t just about control, but a sort of governance with joint collaboration among stakeholders and organisations. Would this be based on traditional online or xMOOCs approach? I don’t see any institutions have got this far yet, but the community colleges may be partnering with edX or Coursera to get more experiences on this.

If I were to recommend to institutions, I would only suggest MOOCs for the senior and teaching staff first, and may be pilot program with a small network of schools to try that out, together with a few institutions (may be local HE institutions, though it may be possible to try the MIT/Harvard- edX or Coursera). Finally, these MUST be strongly supported by top management. Otherwise, it would not be sustainable, and may become what those typically “quality circles” or “quality improvement teams” have gone through, which won’t last for long.

What sort of design would be required for a particular MOOC?

The profile of participants could determine how and why you would need to adopt a particular approach – prescriptive or emergent instructional design and delivery. Connectivist approach would surely work when participants appreciate its value and consider the applications. On the other hand, most educators have been trained under a cognitivist/constructivist/social constructivist paradigm and would prefer to an instructivist pedagogy. Take a look at xMOOCs and you will see how many students would value the “great professors” teaching them, and that they would like to consume all the knowledge presented (based on a transfer of knowledge approach) (though some may like to interact with the professors, but the professors would only do so through those short videos response (selecting a few to respond to) or respond through the forum postings.

It would be interesting to survey or interview those xMOOCs students to find out what they are really thinking and learning, rather than us speculating, or deducting when reading their posts. I must admit that most people won’t comment about xMOOCs and cMOOCs in public, especially if it relates to the professors or instructors or pedagogy, as this is UNUSUAL in closed classroom face-to-face teaching. I still haven’t seen a lot of such open discourse, though there has been a few serious debates about the pedagogy best suited to MOOCs.

Again, as I have suggested, there are simply too many assumptions and presumptions before starting a MOOC. The best approach for me is to really try one out, and see what works and what doesn’t. I reckon xMOOCs would still have the huge “incompletion” rates if they continue to run without recognising the credit towards a degree or qualification, and are free.

Are there free lunches in this world? May be you and I are offering some here, but we all know this won’t last long.  I got my lunch (MOOC).

Finally, many students want to be the author of their education, whereas they could have complete control over their learning.  MOOCs could be the catalyst for letting them to start learning as authors, to write their own learning journeys, and leave a legacy.

How could we help and support them, if we are not yet ready to let them try, and if we haven’t tried it ourselves?

My dear k-12 fellow learners: Are you ready for the MOOC – cMOOCs or xMOOCs?   What is your choice?

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