Home » MOOCs (massive open on-line courses) » #H817 Open Education » The MOOC Approach – activity 12

The MOOC Approach – activity 12


Photo by OCLC

Activity 12 for Open Education is;
Before we examine MOOCs in more detail, briefly consider if the MOOC approach could be adopted in your own area of education or training. Post your thoughts in your blog and then read and comment on your peers’ postings

The first thing that comes to mind when considering this question is staff (teaching and non-teaching) and not students.

It is difficult to find time for all staff to get together and learn. We hold twilight sessions and inset days but there are a limited number of days in the year set aside for this. There is also a lot to fit in and it is mainly teacher focussed. MOOCs could be offered as part of the twilight/inset days or as separate personal development, or even both. Courses could be tailored to teaching, non teaching and combined groups.

We don’t always have the space to have all the staff learning together and MOOCs would create a virtual space for debate and collaboration. I would love to be part of a staff MOOC, particularly if it involved all the additional “chatter” found when using social media and blogs.

Obviously there will be staff that either won’t be interested or need encouragement but I can definitely see its value in staff development.

In terms of students, I think it would be useful but would need to be targeted and used in conjunction with traditional methods. Our students are aged 11-18 and many would benefit greatly, especially as they are considered to be “digital natives”. For some students, who perhaps don’t respond to traditional methods, for whatever reason, this could be a way of engaging them.

In practical terms it could also be used for students absent for long periods because of illness for example. They could also prove helpful during holidays to target those students revising for exams. We currently hold one off revision sessions in the holidays but MOOCs would be a great supplement.

Some adaptations would need to be made but I think MOOCs would play an important role, in partnership with traditional pedagogy for staff and students.



  1. I like your idea of having a MOOC for your staff and encourage participation, that is the first I have heard it mentioned in this particular course. Do your colleagues know about MOOCs or have you talked them up so everyone at least knows your are taking them? Do your colleagues also already participate in them?

    • Nat Nelson says:

      I have definitely talked them up but only when it comes up in conversation. The assistant vice principal asked me to send her links for on-line training so she could forward to teaching staff. I included Coursera (I had only just started on my MOOC journey so didn’t know others existed!). I recently sent the link to a couple of admin staff too. I pass my certificates to HR for my file in terms of evidence of training/learning. Slowly but surely.

  2. johnbaglow says:

    Nat, do you work in He or FE, where I am? In preparation for our TMA I am thinking about ways that MOOCs could have a role in my college. It would certainly be with adult learners, not the 16-19 students and maybe CPD and HE courses in FE are the best candidates.
    I wonder if we could produce a mini-MOOC just for our own staff. What do you and Deborah think?

  3. Im really pleased i read this blog post, ive just started the #ocTEL mooc and my “big question” (first activity) was going to be how do we get staff to engage. We are also redesigning our staff training at the moment. I think a short sharp mooc could be just the thing

    • Nat Nelson says:

      I think a short sharpe MOOC is just the thing! I loved them the moment I started and think staff training is perfect for MOOCs.

      • johnbaglow says:

        Nat, when I wrote “perhaps we could produce a mooc for our own staff” I meant we in my college – but maybe we could come up with one ourselves! What topic do we already have some stuff on? I teach teacher training now. Maybe we could come up with part of a mooc for our own colleagues. It wouldn’t be very massive of course. Any ideas for a subject? Blended learning? Improving your learners’ digital literacy? Communication? …..

      • Nat Nelson says:

        Oops! Do you think misunderstanding is how the greatest inventions were created! Digital communication? PLNs and how to create and use them. I can see how a small MOOC could lot into a staff twilight or inset day.

      • johnbaglow says:

        As you are in a school and I’m in an FE college I imagine that most of the students in both our places are not ready for the independent learning needed for a mooc. Also, even blended learning is not very common in FE and probably not in schools. But we could devise a very mini -mooc designed to introduce our colleagues to half a dozen ways of communicating digitally with their students. It could involve them using screen casting, video conferencing, etherpad (do you know it?), google+ communities ……..It would involve people simply trying out these vehicles, maybe. It’s a mad idea but I quite fancy giving it a go. It’s very much in the mooc spirit, I think. Are you on the H817 course? We could even invite more people to contribute via the H817 forum etc.

      • Nat Nelson says:

        I am on the h817 course and I love the idea of opening it up. I have to say we don’t use any of the tools you mentioned. Except Google as we are slowly transferring everything to Google and Google docs, but I do mean slowly. We use Twitter, FB, Doddle, Edmodo and similar things which are geared toward our age group. Perhaps it could be a more general “how to communicate digitally with students” and just refer to tools as examples. Make it a generic course which is easily adaptable for whichever age range you teach?

      • johnbaglow says:

        Title: How to communicate digitally with students
        Length: 10 hours?
        Content: Twitter; doodle (don’t know it), Edmodo(never heard of it), Etherpad …….. Perhaps just 5 items?Perhaps with generic titles.
        We could ask for volunteers to write the 5 topics?
        So much excitement! Speak to you tomorrow!

      • Nat Nelson says:

        Sounds good lets discuss tomorrow. Past my bedtime! 🙂

      • Not sure if everyone’s doing this for staff training, but librarians have been doing “23 things” that challenge library staff to learn some.. new Web 2.0 things. This is the original 23 Things from 2006 that included prizes. ) I spotted one group that used a 3 month time frame for completing the 23 things. A group came up with 23 Mobile Things challenging library staff to learn some.. new things – like Twitter, Instagram, etc. So.. not a MOOC – but I hear this has been a successful way to get some staff moving in the right direction. 🙂

      • Nat Nelson says:

        Sounds interesting and something that could be useful as an incentive. It would work for me!

  4. I haven’t written my response to this activity yet but your post has sparked off a few ideas for MOOCs. I am thinking ways of helping trainers moving from classroom to elearning build a PLN or toolkit for themselves. Another group I have been thinking about is parents who are worried about digital literacy and want to get more familiar with tools such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, dropbox, Google search etc. I think I will expand on these ideas in my reflections for this activity. I like the idea of developing a MomMOOC 🙂

    • Nat Nelson says:

      A mumMooc, that’s a good idea! We do a lot of work with our local police helping parents, teachers and students understand about safer Internet and Cyber bullying.

  5. […] browsing fellow MOOCer, Nat Nelson’s post on potential MOOC learners being staff sparked off some ideas. I support other staff (L&D, […]

  6. johnbaglow says:

    I quite like the idea of a mooc not aimed at the world of formal education along the lines of what you suggest Nat. And I like Sukaina’s idea of coming up with something for parents. Nuala Davies has pointed out in my blog
    that those of us on the OU H817 course could possibly use some of this in our TMA03

    • Nat Nelson says:

      All sounds good. It could be something adaptable so for parents who are in the dark or concerned and teachers who need persuading about social media and tech.

      Social media and tech in education – what you need to know

      What’s the fuss about?
      What are the dangers?
      What are the benefits?

      This is rather a dry description but could be some of the things we include. Might be nice to have an idiots guide and glossary and examples of which tools would be useful for what.

  7. johnbaglow says:

    Nat, I’m back now, after a few days being otherwise occupied. I have started a community in Google+. Can you access it? Let me know if you need me to do anything to get you in. I notice that David and Sukaina have suggested some other sites as well. I hope to have a look at them later today. No one has put anything on the Etherpad page since we last spoke.
    I’m going to do the work on PLNs this morning, then I shall get back to our mooc or OER or whatever it is morphing into.

  8. johnbaglow says:

    Breaking News: now called My Social Media Toolkit

  9. […] beautiful example of this can be found in the comments of this at the bottom of this blog post  by Nat Nelson, a group of academics are making an OER together (there are still Coase Costs they are meeting […]

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