‘The education systems designed in the last century no longer meet the needs of our learners and our societies. We know that schools must be transformed to engage today’s young people’.
Timperly, Kaiser and Halbert (2014)
For me, the quote above sums up the interesting juncture that education in New Zealand is currently at. Our current education system is undergoing a transformation as schools move away the traditional teaching model. We are seeing this with the move away from silo subjects and the development of open plan learning environments.
This transformation is also happening in the way the we deliver and assess our curriculum. This development is one that interest me. It is one of the reasons that during my Mindlab study I have been drawn to the idea of MOOCs (Massive, Open, Online, Course). As schools look to become more relevant to student and societal needs, a key tool in this process can be MOOCs. They offer flexibility, student differentiation, engagement and easy of access. Importantly, they offer the mechanism where students can gain acknowledgement and learn at a pace and place that suits them.
The first stage of my action was to create my MOOC website. The creation of the website meant that I spent a large proportion of my summer holidays in front of the computer developing an online learning platform I have called Toku Ako – My Learning.
The process of developing a full-scale working website, with registration and content, was time consuming, technical and expensive. However, it was also thoroughly enjoyable. My site is now working and can be viewed here – www.toku-ako.co.nz
When developing the website I was conscious of Dumont et al (2010) 7 Principles of Learning. These 7 Principles are our guide as we progress in this Spiral of Inquiry – ensuring we always keep the Learner at the Heart of all we do. I have kept having to remind myself that my inquiry was around developing a MOOC to enhance student knowledge of media literacy.
On reflection, the realities of this can different. While we try and keep the Learner at the Heart often external pressures take over. We start with the vision and get bogged down with the technicalities. I had problems with technical aspects around the design of the graphics, our server not being able to cope with the volume of traffic and content issues. There have also been login issues which effected students ability to leave a course and come back to the exact same place. These ‘issues’ often get in the way of keeping the Learner at the Heart of what we do.
My plan from here is to work on the website and get to the stage where the Toku Ako MOOC is working effectively. I envisage this will take 2 weeks. Following this I will extend invitations around the country to students to try the course. While this is progressing, I will also be interviewing 5 students from my class. This will provide me with more intensive data to evaluate the effectiveness of the MOOC.
Overall I have found the process of developing the site, engaging with students, collecting survey data enjoyable. However, the hard work will be in the next few weeks.
Dumont, H, Istance, D and Benavides, F (2010) TheNature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Publications, Paris.
Halbert and Kaser, 2013; Kaser and, 2009; Timperley, 2011.
Ruben R. Puentedura, Transformation, Technology, and Education. (2006)