MOOCs: How will they affect your K-12 classroom?


“You see the educator writing through the problem, solving the equation, or drawing a concept, and you see him or her as you would if you were drawing the concept. There’s no lecture and blackboard happening. It not only lends a feeling of connection to the educator, but helps students better visualize what’s being explained,” said Garrigan.

Tools available through MOOCs also include the ability for an educator to write out a question, or set of questions, through the video and then have the video turn those hand-written questions into an interactive online quiz.

The interactive quizzes then provide students, and the educator, with instant feedback.

Garrigan gave the example of Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity, a Google fellow and VP, and a research professor at Stanford University, who resigned his tenured position at a prestigious university to start a MOOC platform.

“Here’s this man who was what we call a ‘rockstar teacher;’ he had over 200 students enrolled in his class, and when he heard that Salman Khan [of Khan Academy] was reaching thousands of students at once, he changed completely,” said Garrigan.

Watch Thrun’s explanation of why he become a MOOC educator:

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“This is what MOOCs are doing to educators,” he continued, “they’re making educators realize you can’t just say ‘here’s the content and if you come you come; if you don’t you don’t.’ Instead, educators are now saying ‘It’s my job to teach as many people as I can and to become part of this global learning community. It’s a spirit of cooperation and information sharing.”

It’s also what Garrigan referred to as an ‘Amazon’-like experience for education.

“What if each learner can choose from personally recommended, high-quality, appropriate lessons that they are interested in?” asked Garrigan. “Students become invited to learn whatever they want, not forced into learning a set of materials.”

The MOOC platform Garrigan suggested for high school students and teachers is Khan Academy, which allows for grading, peer and self-review, data reports, and student tracking.

Learn more about Khan Academy here.

However, Garrigan does note that concerns still exist with MOOC-based learning, including accountability, face-to-face contact with educators, state department of education buy-in, and course credits.

“But think of it this way,” he concluded, “As an educator in a typical K-12 classroom, it would take you almost 25 years to reach the 100,000 students you could reach in one MOOC. And as a district, consider edX: reaching over one billion students, they are now the largest education enterprise in existence.”

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Meris Stansbury

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