My Personal Experience with MOOCsAkram Baddoura
I wrote in a previous article about how opponents to the traditional learning environment in a “brick and mortar” class, believe that this is an old style of learning. They argue that the new online virtual learning environment has already started to take cover. Proponents of the traditional style believe that their way is crucial, indispensable and irreplaceable. However, a third party takes a compromising middle stance and suggests a blended form of learning that can encompass the two seemingly opposing styles.
All of this discussion, debate, and argument has prompted a surge of thoughts and concerns in me about whether I, the so-called traditional teacher, may find myself very soon out of demand if I fail to catch up with the unavoidable trend of teaching in a virtual environment. I have realized that I need to act quickly to be able to deal with this kind of future challenge. I ought to be equipped with the necessary skills to teach, wholly or partly online. How could I acquire such skills? How could I identify and master the existing and the emerging technologies utilized in both, the curriculum development of a virtual learning course and its methods of instruction?
Apparently, I must take a course or a specialized program that would provide me with such qualifications and skills. But how could I do that, and at the same time maintain my job? I immediately thought of MOOCs as the convenient solution to this dilemma. I had taken one MOOC course in the past, but now I have decided to educate myself more and more about these open and online courses and programs.
MOOC, the Massive Open Online Course, is defined by The Oxford Dictionary as “A course of study made available over the Internet without charge to an enormous number of people.”
MOOCs first emerged in 2008.The three biggest MOOC platforms on the web – Coursera, EdX, and Udacity – between them, they provide almost thousands of online education courses to millions of students from all parts of the world. And that’s just the top three!
- Udacity which was born out of a Stanford University experiment, offers courses built in partnership with leading companies like Google, AT&T, and Facebook. It works directly with professors rather than institutions.
- Coursera signs contracts directly with universities such as University of California Irvine, Stanford, University of London, Georgia Institute of Technology and Chicago University. It is in partnership with 147 partners across 29 countries, and offering 1,927 courses.
- Edx a joint venture between Harvard and MIT, and is also in collaboration with top universities such as Berkley, and Sorbonne.
There are many other popular MOOC platforms such as Open Learning, Alison, Udemy, Khan Academy, Canvas Networks, FutureLearn, NovoEd, Miriada X and Open2Study.
As far as I am concerned, my aim was to select a suitable program that would educate me about the field of the virtual learning environment. After a thorough research, I found what I wanted in the Coursera learning management platform. It is a Specialization program called “Virtual Teacher”. It comprises of five courses each with a duration of 4-6 weeks. The five courses are Foundations of Virtual Instruction, Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual K-12 Classroom, Advanced Instructional Strategies in the Virtual Classroom, Performance assessment in the Virtual Classroom, and Virtual Teacher Final Project. Every course includes recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums. When I complete a course, I receive an electronic Course Certificate. The figure below shows a sample of a weekly breakdown of one of the courses:
I have completed the first two courses, and hope to finish the remaining three by next April or May. I have benefited and learned a lot from this program. I can now claim that I am not anymore in the dark when it comes to the basics and the technologies utilized in teaching virtually online.
At the end, I would like you to spare a few minutes to watch this short video about how to deliver an engaging virtual classroom presentation.