Abstracts: June 19th, 2014

Massive open online courses, MOOCs, are being taken up slowly to educate 12-19 year olds in the UK, but there is potential for greater use if deployed in particular ways.

Research into MOOCs and their use within compulsory-age education found that there are a handful of school-age MOOCs currently operating in the UK, although mainly these have been funded by the government and social enterprise and mainly focused on niche key stage 5 objectives.

Internationally and particularly in the US, there have been high drop out rates in MOOCs for lifelong learning, but there has been greater success of blended programs in higher education. MOOCs have been particularly successful in delivering advanced studies courses, at a level beyond those taken by most students.

They have also delivered additional courses that can’t fit into school timetabling, used in low take-up subjects and as a supplementary resource or as the content anchor for blended learning.

Combining the views of teachers (both generally and those who have direct personal experience of MOOCs), headteachers and MOOC experts yields surprising enthusiasm for MOOCs in UK school-age learning – and in particular for a model of MOOC that can report participation and progress to a classroom teacher.

A survey of teacher attitudes to and assessment of particular challenges in the education sector found that there was enthusiasm for supplementary support for gifted & talented students, for exam preparation courses as well as for teacher CPD and e-learning courses for subjects with low student take-up.

The report recommends a number of measures to develop and realise the benefits that might be gained for schools, teachers and learners from MOOCs, including MOOC experience in teacher training and CPD, directing the next tranche of any funding for MOOC development towards mainstream key stage 3/4 initiatives, to help prove the commercial model and promoting teacher-built MOOCs and mini-MOOCs, through better facilities for sharing video content