miniMOOCs: Well if Sir Ken Robinson thinks it’s a good idea!

Last Summer, I had the pleasure of meeting (briefly!) Sir Ken Robinson at London’s Olympia.

I have heard him speak many a time online by the means of TED and his amazing talks about Creativity and a few times in person. This was the first time I had spoken to him ‘off-track’ and gauged his opinion the direction of learning rather than listening about his research and in-depth findings.

To cut a relatively short conversation even shorter, Robinson stated that MOOCs have the potential to play an essential role in the future of learning.

This notion correlates with Sugata Mitra’s thinking; that the Internet has made knowledge obsolete. If anyone across the globe wants to find more out about a concept, they will go to a web browser and search for it. This is our learning behaviours today. If I don’t know how to do something, in that moment I need the knowledge; I visit YouTube and watch a video then apply my newly acquired knowledge. If a question comes to mind, a simple web search normally feeds my curiousity. I am not unique with these behaviours. I am positive the vast majority out there do the same.

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, guide thinking. They forge knowledge as they replicate online basic teaching strategies and apply it to theory that can be accessed online or uploaded for the learner’s reference. Therefore, rather than read something that applies the answer, you are subtly given the information online then given tasks to apply the learning. Essentially basic classroom learning without the classroom and its features. The main key component, independence.

England has seen a curriculum re-write in 2015. Many key terms have are now used in many of its schools because of it. Collaboration is a really important though lesser used one compared to the big ones, deepen and broaden. The Department of Education now wants England’s pupils to go deeper into concepts to gain a broader knowledge of it.

We spotted an opportunity for a digital solution to deepen concepts that were being taught in class. I have completed various MOOCs to develop my professional thinking and practise. They were thoroughly enjoyable; they provoked critical thought. They were particularly engaging as they were tailored and relevant to my needs.

I am creating miniMOOCs to delve further into concepts in our school. I routinely visit classes to be part of the teaching and learning. I identify a concept that a MOOC can take in a new direction. I create an online activity that encourages the participants to visit sites, read texts, watch videos and then complete interactive activities to apply the new conceptual knowledge. These activities often encourage children to apply this knowledge using new IT skills that are either taught in their Computing sessions with me, or skills that are self-taught; picked up by participating in that given miniMOOC.

miniMOOCs have been set as homeworks and have been used in class as extension material and as part of independent learning. They have proven to be invaluable in deepening knowledge, fuelling a desire to learn more about a concept and encourage children to be independent learners, searching for answers to the questions we want them to ask of everything.

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