MOOC’s for Teachers

For teachers time is a precious commodity. Add to that the fact that teachers and school Heads (if they’re honest) admit that most professional development in schools is pretty ineffective and we must all be open to new ideas and to experimentation. There is a saying that states, “Learning hasn’t taken place until behaviour has changed.” When applied to teacher training, way too much of it consists of teachers engaged either in passive listening, or discussing issues within their comfort zones. The net result is that, even where regular time is committed in schools to teacher PD, it doesn’t bring enough benefit to justify the inputs.

I came across the following article a couple of years ago;

KGED News – Mindshift – MOOCs for Teachers.

For those not familiar, MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses. These are learning programmes offered over the internet, usually for adults that have been seen to have the potential to revolutionise the way adults learn and how they acquire new qualifications. They haven’t been without their challenges. For example, very high attrition rates during programmes/ low completion rates – it seems generations bred on spoon-fed education where their role was inherently passive struggle to marshal the intrinsic motivation to see such courses through.

I personally don’t believe that MOOCs will ever replace face to face PD for teachers. However, I believe that when the two are combined there are some very interesting possibilities for teachers to demonstrate their credentials as lifelong learners.

Teachers within a school with a particular interest area can pursue a MOOC, either alone or in a small group. Then, they can be given opportunities to carry out action research in their school to test and practice the new knowledge coming out of the course. Then, they are likely to be highly motivated to want to share their findings and experiences with their peers. This takes the MOOC and makes its content relevant and applicable in whatever local environment the teachers are experiencing.

This has a number of advantages. It exposes teachers, wherever in the world they’re based, to the latest cutting edge thinking and the leading thinkers and experts in the field without restraints of geography or cost. It opens up teachers’ minds to what teachers elsewhere are doing and begins to set them on a path towards taking those ideas and bringing them in to action in their own schools.

Already, I’m finding that there are growing numbers of teachers ready to tap in to online resources such as webinars, podcasts, articles and book sale sites to broaden the material they’re exposing themselves to. This can only benefit students over time.

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