MOOCs may or may not save higher education, and if they save it they may further widen the gap between elite and lesser-known schools. They may also reinforce existing achievement gaps for students. As massive open online courses continue to evolve, however, educators need to know what they are and how they are changing the education landscape.
In fact, teachers and professors could be well served by trying out MOOCs for themselves. After all, the classes are free and full of information. Providers such as Coursera, edX and Udacity offer catalogs of subject- and skills-organized options for new MOOC-takers. For anyone working in education, though, the best first stop might be "Education" category at Coursera.
Here are five great examples of upcoming MOOCs using Coursera's platform that relate directly to what goes on in classrooms:
1. GLOBALIZING HIGHER EDUCATION AND RESEARCH FOR THE ‘KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY’
Kris Olds out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Susan L. Robertson of the University of Bristol teach this course about the global context that higher education takes place in. It's an 8-week course with the next session starting up in 2014, so you have time to make a decision. One of the course's objectives is to experiment and see how well MOOCs work, so if you're looking for a MOOC that will teach you about MOOCs, this course could be a fine introduction.
2. MORE THAN A HIGH SCORE: VIDEOGAMES AND LEARNING
Constance Steinkuehler and Kurt Squire, both instructors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, lead this MOOC about game and learning. The course delves into the different types of interaction and understanding that take places during gameplay in an attempt to bridge popular understandings of video games and their potential as a learning medium.
3. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
All technology aside, teaching is about dealing with people, and Scott Plous of Weslyan University handles this six-week course about how individuals develop prejudices and make decisions. For anyone who finds themselves continually baffled by student behavior, this sounds like a great resource for gaining insights.
4. ABORIGINAL WORLDVIEWS AND EDUCATION
The University of Toronto's Jean-Paul Restoule incorporates perspectives on education in his MOOC about indigenous cultures and knowledge. For anyone who has ever wanted to gain a better grasp of what learning is and how it can be viewed outside of the Western academic mainstream, this course could be a breath of fresh air.
5. E-LEARNING AND DIGITAL CULTURES
Technology can deeply affect how cultures grow and develop, and Jeremy Cox—along with his University of Edinburgh colleagues—takes a stab at articulating what it means to learn in a digital culture. You may even get some instruction ideas of your own from the multiple formats they use to teach this MOOC.
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