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In this Issue: Massive open online courses (MOOCs)

Social media sites and online tools for education


The New York Times® named 2012 the “Year of the MOOC,” and MOOC has remained somewhat of a buzzword ever since. Unlike traditional online courses, a MOOC, or massive open online course, is free, credit-less and open to the masses. MOOCs often combine education with elements of gamification and social networking rather than relying just on pre-recorded lectures and written course materials.MOOCs are bringing top-notch education to every corner of the world and are helping students excel in school, advance their skills and expand their intellectual and personal networks. For more information on how MOOCs can benefit your students, keep reading.

The benefits of a MOOC

Schools need not choose between MOOCs and traditional learning models. Rather, they can find a way to balance the two methods of learning to provide the best education and accessibility to students. Here’s what MOOCs can do for your students:

  • Nurture an interest: MOOCs, due to their self-paced nature (and the fact that they’re generally free), provide a great opportunity for students to nurture an interest before committing to a full, semester-long course or major. Provide a list of suggested MOOCs and their URLs—perhaps through Udacity®, Coursera® or edX®—to students looking to test out certain fields or areas of study. Imprint this information on bookmarks or device cleaning cloths for easy student access.
  • A MOOC in lieu of a tutor: Perhaps you have a student struggling in a particular area of study. A MOOC can be a great substitute or complement to a tutor. The anytime/anywhere nature of this type of course, plus the wide range of MOOCs available, make this a viable option to provide extra help to students where needed. Provide struggling learners with a resource folder complete with information on obtaining a tutor, a list of helpful MOOCs and instructor office hours.
  • Promote group study: Because there is generally no limit to the number of enrollees permitted in a MOOC, instructor assistance or interaction is essentially nonexistent. Due to the independent nature of these courses, organized study groups and online forums can become a lifeline for students. However, forming them can be a challenge. It may be helpful to form a group of students with similar interests first. Then the students can determine which topics they wish to study, what classes they would like to take, and from there, form a study group. A meet-and-greet event for interested learners can be helpful to get the ball rolling. Promote your meet-and-greet at registration sessions, orientation and the like—display posters and banners and hand out sports bags with literature promoting the meet-and-greet sessions and the benefits of learning with a study group.

Remember, MOOCs are not meant to replace traditional learning models. Rather, the two work together in an effort to provide students with the best education possible—a win for all!


Pappano, Laura. “The Year of the MOOC.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Nov. 2012. Web. Retrieved 18 Sept. 2014.

MOOC: Massive Open Online Course.” The EvoLLLution. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 19 Sept. 2014.

MOOC-ing Together – Prefab Learning Groups.” Degree of Freedom. N.p., 17 Oct. 2013. Web. Retrieved 19 Sept. 2014.



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