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Are MOOCs coming to a school near you?

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Are MOOCs coming to a school near you?

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MOOCs have undoubtedly made a big splash in the education world over the past few years, but it’s probably fair to say that most of that impact has come in the tertiary sector.  Some figures recently showed that the majority of MOOC students have at least a college level education.  You could argue therefore that the MOOC platforms are missing a trick in that they are primarily preaching to the converted.

Alas, signs are afoot that things might be changing.  Central to these was an announcement earlier this month by edX that they are teamping up with education company GEMS (Global Education Management System).  GEMS operate in a whole host of schools around the world, and the hope is that the partnership will do a better job at bringing MOOCs into schools than has thus far been the case.

It should probably be said that this has mainly been through design, with universities initially sticking to tried and trusted ground in appealing primarily to the higher education market.  That shouldn’t undersell the potential for MOOCs to make a big impact in the school age market however, either as supplements to regular classes or even to bridge the gaps that exist due to teacher shortages.  You can easily see the benefits for this in many developing countries for instance.

These kind of benefits were recently espoused in a report published by the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute.  It highlighted a number of benefits for both teachers and students.  For instance, teachers might gain fresh ideas for classes or extended networks.  They may enhance their own professional development or find additional materials for student learning.

Students on the other hand could find learning ala MOOC more engaging, whilst simultaneously giving them some of the skills required to thrive in the modern digital world.  This last point is something I’ve blogged about before, and there are some really nice projects going on around the world aiming to bring a more collaborative and social element to classroom behaviour.

With schools increasingly tasked with doing more with less money and resources, it seems inevitable that MOOCs will be deployed more frequently in the classroom.  Whilst there are undoubted hurdles to overcome to ensure the experience is adequately suited to the job at hand, these are hurdles that are being addressed by the industry front on.  Don’t be surprised therefore to start seeing MOOCs appearing in a school near you.

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