In spring 2013, more than 2,500 educators from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and sixty-eight countries participated in a first-of-its-kind Massive Open Online Course for Educators (MOOC-Ed). This fall, the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University will run a new version of the Digital Learning Transition (DLT) MOOC-Ed. Registration is now open at https://courses.mooc-ed.org/dlt2/.
Building on the Alliance’s Project 24 initiative and the Friday Institute’s Digital Learning Collaborative, this course will help K–12 educators plan and implement digital learning initiatives that enable their schools and districts to meet educational challenges. Available to educators at no cost, the course will run from September 30 through November 24.
“As students and educators begin a new school year, they are facing new challenges, including higher expectations for student learning that are associated with new college- and career-ready standards,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Through this MOOC-Ed, educators will experience first-hand how digital learning can change teaching and help students meet these higher standards. It will also help them develop a valuable plan for how to navigate their school or district through a digital learning transition.”
The DLT MOOC-Ed is specifically designed to provide educators with a professional learning opportunity that is self-directed, peer-supported, and flexible while providing structured learning opportunities. It is organized around a framework based on the work of both the Alliance’s Project 24 and the Friday Institute’s Digital Learning Collaborative that helps educators plan digital learning initiatives to meet district and school goals.
Throughout the course, participants will have access to experts who have successfully implemented digital learning efforts that support teachers and positively impact student learning. By conducting the course on such a massive scale—literally thousands of educators can participate—participants will also benefit from peer interactions that will allow them to discuss ideas, share strategies and resources, and exchange constructive feedback. They will also have opportunities to “crowdsource” the most valuable ideas, strategies, and resources.
In conjunction with the DLT MOOC-Ed, the Alliance and the Friday Institute released The Digital Learning Transition MOOC for Educators: Exploring a Scalable Approach to Professional Development, a new paper that describes the design of the DLT MOOC-Ed; examines results from the first course as determined from web analytics, analyses of online discussions, and survey data; and offers lessons learned about this new approach to professional development.
“The results of the first Digital Learning Transition MOOC-Ed have convinced me that there is great potential in MOOCs for educators,” said Glenn Kleiman, executive director of the Friday Institute and coauthor of the report. “It’s exciting to explore this new approach to bringing together educators from around the country and across the world to share, explore, and learn about planning digital learning initiatives in K–12 schools.”
The Digital Learning Transition MOOC for Educators finds that participants in the initial MOOC-Ed were able to personalize their own learning experiences and that the course was engaging, easy to navigate, and motivating to further digital learning in their schools and districts. Overall, participants reported that they gained new insights and knowledge from the MOOC-Ed and that they would recommend it to colleagues.
According to the report, MOOC-Ed participants engaged in a wide range of discussion topics, and several key themes consistently emerged that reiterated the importance of
- leading with education initiatives rather than technology initiatives;
- changing the culture of teaching and learning to one that has a student-centered focus;
- identifying, implementing, and sustaining professional learning opportunities;
- recognizing that leadership is central to the digital learning transition; and
- ensuring buy-in from teachers and administrators in schools and the district, as well as parents, the community, and school board members.
Among its key findings, the report notes that the DLT MOOC-ED provides much-needed professional development and recommends that future versions should be designed for a diverse group of participants; provide flexibility to meet participants’ schedules; encourage participation with local colleagues; and support personalized definitions of success and completion.
Educators who are interested in participating in the upcoming DLT MOOC-Ed can register at https://courses.mooc-ed.org/dlt2/.
The Digital Learning Transition MOOC for Educators: Exploring a Scalable Approach to Professional Development is available at https://all4ed.org/files/MOOC-Ed.pdf.