What About MOOCs?

I really like the idea of the MOOC (Massive, Open, Online Course) to provide educational opportunities to those individuals who might otherwise not have access to education because of distance and time.

The community college where I work has a service area that spans 33,000 square miles, making it one of the largest (if not the largest) community college district in the nation. This area spans counties that are very rural. For many of the residents of these counties, pursuing higher education is not an option because travel to an institution of higher education would be prohibitive. Internet access in many of those areas is very limited and often unreliable. But almost everyone in this era has smart phones. Providing open courses that are delivered online, and deliverable through a mobile device could really help to reach many of those potential learners. Providing a MOOC environment that would allow these participants to  experience higher education while developing skills that would help them succeed in other online courses.

Currently we provide faculty development opportunities that are offered as open enrollment in online environments. This is something we have established even for our face-to-face development opportunities. The faculty can use the open courses as a resource and refresher. As we move forward with adjunct faculty development opportunities through our Faculty Support Studio, more of our part-time faculty will be able to participate in development activities. Currently these courses are not open outside of the College, so at this time, they are technically not massive. But it’s a start! Right now these courses are asynchronous, and have significant amount of media in the form of narrated screen captures and videos that help the participants learn to use the tools and strategies through examples and demonstrations.

In addition to those opportunities, we also offer smaller scale online opportunities that are facilitated, and are a mix of synchronous and asynchronous opportunities. These are designed to help our faculty develop improved skills in online teaching and learning. The course I am developing through this class will fall into this category. The difference… the format we are employing allows for more opportunities for participants to engage with facilitators than in a traditional MOOC. This layer of support between facilitator and learner allows for more responsiveness to the course design, through the duration of the course, and also allows for a richer more engaging experience for the learners.