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Using a MOOC in an In-Person Class

17 Mar 2015 by Scott Sterling

In the world of education, the idea of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is still new, but MOOCs have fallen into predictable patterns. Some colleges use them to replace professor-led online classes. Many people who aren’t registered students seek to broaden their knowledge through MOOCs without receiving credit.

Those aren’t the only options.

MOOCs provide a great source of content and structure that can be used in any class, including in-person secondary educational offerings. Here are some ideas to help make that happen:

Flipped learning

One of the challenges of flipped learning is producing or finding content to provide background knowledge for students to consume at home before class. Tech-savvy teachers find it easy to create and edit videos, but for some educators, that’s not an option. They turn to YouTube™ and its questionable quality instead.

The right MOOC, however, can inform the learning for an entire course. It’s not “mailing it in” on the teacher’s part; he or she gets to help facilitate during class time. Educators still guide projects and help struggling students. The use of a MOOC just broadens the options for teachers.

Student MOOC contribution

Think of this as flipping flipped learning. You use a MOOC to inform your instruction, as above. But during class time, the focus of the students is to create more content for the MOOC that is particularly tailored to your class.

Kids know what they like and what makes presentations effective for their ages. Chances are, even the best MOOC doesn’t provide that experience, so have students create the content for next year’spupils.

Esoteric learning

The technology pioneers of the ’70s, like Bill Gates and Paul Allen, stayed after school for hours at a time learning how to write computer code. They shared an interest that would eventually employ thousands of people and make themselves billionaires.

Many students also have shared interests, like coding, but don’t have the opportunity to explore them because courses aren’t offered in those subjects.

Consider forming a MOOC club after school. Students would stay after, like for a regular club, but help each other get through a MOOC. Not only would they get to work on something they’re interested in, but they’d also get to work collaboratively with like-minded students, which is a key skill in Common Core and other state standards.

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