Monday, December 17, 2012

MOOCs are for Everyone!

University of Miami Global Academy
MOOCs (massive open online courses) are great resources for independent, lifelong learners. They are all about open, participatory, distributed, networked learning. Although they don’t necessarily lead to official certifications, in most instances, a MOOC can reach tens of thousands of students of all ages and they also have the potential to equalize education across social class and they have no geographical boundary.

To demonstrate the growth and the potential of MOOCs, in the Fall of 2011 Stanford University offered an artificial intelligence course that attracted more than 160,000 students.  This was followed by the launch of higher education courses on the Coursera platform which now includes 33 universities and serves more than 2.8 million Courserians.  Harvard also joined the MOOC movement by launching edX which offerts free online courses from Harvard, MIT, University of Texas, Wellesley, Georgetown, and University of California at Berkeley.

With the growth of higher education in MOOCs, I began to wonder if there would be any movement in K-12 or CTE and I wanted to let you know that the University of Miami Global Academy–an online high school sponsored by UM’s Division of Continuing and International Education, has launched what may be the first free MOOC for high school students–a three-week test prep class designed to get students ready for the Collage Board’s SAT Subject Test in Biology.

The 3-week course schedule will cover the following topics:
  1. Cellular and Molecular Biology
  2. Ecology and Genetics
  3. Organismal Biology and Evolution & Diversity
Each week students will prepare by reading chapters from the review book Barron's SAT Subject Test: Biology E/M, participate in 2 live teaching sessions, and review suggested online resources after each session.

If you are unable to attend one of the live sessions, don't worry! They will all be recorded and available to you on the website to allow you to catch up or review particular material.

The course is taught by UMGA lead science instructor Jennifer Taylor, an experienced online instructor. It runs live via Skype and a CMS, allowing students to ask real-time questions. Sessions are recorded and available for review as archived videos on the website. The MOOC uses Barron’s SAT Subject Test: Biology E/M as an optional text, but students are encouraged to read recommended chapters prior to the live sessions.

The plan is to offer the course once a semester. And if it works, UMGA promises that more high school MOOCs will follow.

I believe many high school students are going to take advantage of this free test prep and I look forward to seeing how MOOCs will affect other educational areas in the future!

Watch the following video by Dave Cormier to gain a better understanding about MOOCs or click HERE to watch the video.

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