MOOCS and MOOC Study Circles in Adult Ed
Submitted by David J. Rosen on February 2, 2013 - 7:12am
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Sometime soon adult learners may learn from MOOCS* as well as in classes or tutorials. The idea of students learning in an online distance education course that thousands of others across the world are enrolled in probably causes some adult education practitioners to shudder, including me. However, that may not be the right image. MOOCs are new, and not fully formed. There are lots of possibilities.
In Boston this past week the Mayor announced that the city has a new partnership with EdX, a MOOC consortium of Harvard, M.I.T., CAL Berkeley and other universities. (See my 2012 blog article about EdX at http://davidjrosen.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/a-quantum-leap-for-distance-learning/ ) I wondered, since these online courses are accessed free from anywhere in the world, why Boston needed a partnership for residents to take advantage of them. Here’s why. In what could be an innovative nonformal learning model, they will be offered through community centers sponsored by the Boston Centers for Youth and Families. This will be a blended learning model involving what might look like study circles or study groups, possibly led by Harvard or M.I.T. faculty, but also possibly organized by community study group facilitators. In theory these blended model MOOCs could include adult education teachers, volunteer tutors, and possibly adult learner leaders, especially as many of these community centers already have well-developed, publicly-funded, standards-based adult education programs. That’s an intriguing model to think about.
As far as I know adult literacy education MOOCS don’t yet exist, but suppose there were MOOCS for adult learners, that they were an extension of basic literacy, ESOL, ABE, ASE or Transition classes, that their content was well integrated with those classes, that the MOOC content was aligned with state content standards or national common core state standards. Suppose class-based or volunteer tutoring programs that offer group or one-on-one instruction trained and helped adult learner leaders to organize study groups using content provided by the MOOC.
Of course, this would require a way to train the study circle facilitators. There are some good models to draw upon, for example those developed by the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, NCSALL http://ncsall.net specifically http://tinyurl.com/a3hpkkc and http://tinyurl.com/bkfxzgr, the Study Circles Resource Center in Connecticut, http://www.cpn.org/partners/studycircles.html and CALPRO, the California statewide adult education professional development center, http://www.calpro-online.org/adminPages/studyCircles.asp , among others. At some point, if there is a need, I may develop an asynchronous online or blended training for adult basic education MOOC study circle facilitators based on one or more of these well-developed models.
I wonder if anyone else in this CoP has been thinking about MOOCS for adult literacy education, and the possibility of making them blended learning models with face-to-face study circles or integrated with classes. If so, let’s hear about your ideas and experiences.
David J. Rosen
*…An acronym, for Massive Open Online Course (or Massive Open Online Class), a course of study indeed taught online using video. But a MOOC is more than that, as a recent article explains:
MOOCs are more than good university lectures available online. The real innovation comes from integrating academics talking with interactive coursework, such as automated tests, quizzes and even games. Real-life lectures have no pause, rewind (or fast-forward) buttons; MOOCs let students learn at their own pace, typically with short, engaging videos, modelled on the hugely successful online lecturettes pioneered by TED, a non-profit organiser of upmarket mindfests. The Economist, 22 Dec. 2012.
In the 1960s the Open University in the UK was a pioneer of such distance teaching, in part using BBC radio and television. It has recently joined with other British universities to provide course content, lectures and assignments that follow the MOOC model. US institutions such as MIT and Harvard are providing MOOCs, as are several independent start-ups. They are proving popular, but for many students a downside is that few courses lead to a qualification and it is uncertain whether they can be economically viable in the long term.
MOOC borrows from online gaming acronyms such as MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) and MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). It was coined by George Siemens, a prominent Canadian educator at the Center for Distance Education, who with Stephen Downes created the first MOOC in 2008.
copyright © Michael Quinion 2013. http://www.worldwidewords.org.