There have been some big shifts in the way education has been delivered over the years. We’ve seen the likes of Khan Academy do wonderful things in maths and science related topics, and they even teamed up with NASA recently to produce a joint effort over some space related topics.
These things have undoubtedly been cool, but the MOOC movement have largely been conspicuous by their absence. Of course, school age children are as free to take their courses as anyone else, but there is little in the way of custom built content for that age group. At least, that used to be the case.
Last month, the MOOC network edX announced the launch of a new project aimed squarely at school age children. Well, I say school age children, but we’re not talking under 18 year olds as much as we are those about to leave school.
The project sees 27 courses created, on topics from maths to science to English and history, with the aim of shrinking the gap between students leaving school and those entering college. The first three of the courses are set to start this week, with another batch due to begin around January time.
A number of studies have highlighted an apparent gap between the skills students leave school with, and the requirements of their university. It’s a challenge these MOOCs hope to face head on. This is especially so if the students school don’t offer advanced placement courses. The MOOCs will also offer students the chance to test out graduate level courses before they begin university, thus hopefully enhancing their readiness when term-time comes around.
Suffice to say, it’s also a significant value add for schools that may have traditionally been unable to provide the kind of learning material being made available by these courses. Whether it’s a lack of money or a lack of manpower, these courses could give schools a welcome addition to their curriculum.
Lastly of course, they also provide the colleges with the boost of a more appropriately skilled student body, so there will hopefully be less need to run booster courses to get students up to speed for their first months on campus. It might even become part of the entry requirements in time?
Overall it’s an interesting project and one that is well worth following. Obviously it is heavily geared towards the US market at the moment, but I’m sure the international MOOC community will be watching this eagerly and seeing whether it’s worth rolling out in their particular regions.