In a time of so-called game changers in online educators (and economic crisis), the challenge is always to focus in on the most important aspects within higher education, and for me it boils down to student learning and student experience. So, when online learning spaces (MOOCs, blended/hybrid courses, and other online options) become, yet again, the answer from politicians, tech enthusiasts, etc., it forces me to stop and pause. I have paused and here is how I have proceeded…
What are MOOCs good for? Experimentation…As a faculty member in a School of Education at a CSU, I view my primary objective (outside of teaching) as tied to the local educational community. And so the idea that I need to go Massive isn’t really a compelling argument for me, at this moment in time, considering my students and my obligation to the local educational community. Yet, I am intrigued with this idea of opening up the educational technology courses I teach to our local partners: districts, teachers, parents, etc. So, I decided to experiment with an “intro to ed tech” course and I asked a few of my current and former students to come along on the ride with me as we changed the course format; redesigned some of my former instructional practices and created new, collaborative practices; analyzed the relationship between pedagogy, content, and technology; opened ourselves up to new ways to assess student learning, and attempted to meet the needs of local educators interested in taking the LOOC (locally open and online course).
The LOOC experiment: One of the goals within the teacher education program at Sonoma State University (SSU) is to build and nurture strong partnerships with local offices of education and their respective educators. Within the School of Education, I decided to experiment with a locally open and online course (LOOC) with an interested county partner as a way to meet this goal. With four graduate students, we re-envisioned and revised one of the most popular educational technology courses in the Education’s graduate program in curriculum, teaching, and learning for this specific educational community. Although the logistics of the LOOC were cumbersome and bureaucratic, the design and implementation processes were a collaborative, invigorating, and productive experience for me. It is my hope that this model can provide a local alternative to the MOOC that is demographically targeted, pedagogically situated, and helps to build and nurture the partnerships that are most meaningful to a university department, discipline, and its faculty.
Our first class is September 19th! Wish us (and the students) luck!