You might remember that I love a good MOOC. And if you didn’t remember that, I should point out that last year I tried out five Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and the first MOOC I finished was a Coursera one called K-12 Blended & Online Learning presented by a local college Kennesaw State University.

Well, it is back! And here is what I am doing while it is …

Last year our assistant superintendent sent a district-wide email to all staff; this year that email went only to principals. That cemented in me the idea to promote the course through our workgroup and offer weekly meet-ups as support to teachers. The first meet-up will be this Tuesday. I only know of one other person signed up, deep breath, but I will see through the first four after-school meetings I have offered to make sure I give an opportunity to anyone joining the course late or finding out about the meetings after they start. I do not want a misconception about how unachievable this coursework is to stand in any teachers way!

Check out my workgroup’s post on the topic. This includes our flier for our schools.

There are a couple of changes I have noted so far from last year’s course. There is no longer the option for Georgia educators to earn 2 Professional Learning Units (PLUs) after the first four weeks and choose to go forward to the end of the course for the full five PLUs. I understand this must have been an incredible amount of work for the facilitators of the course, but it is a negative from my point of view. I would love to offer the first part of content to people who truly need that background knowledge and then encourage them to come back next year to finish for the next PLUs, really distribute that learning. I can see that that would be difficult to monitor, people might want to skip the first four weeks, double the chance of errors and paperwork. But from my point of view, I may lose participants in my district because of elevated stakes.
Another change is that Coursera seems to have severed its ties with Meet-up, but since that was the way I hoped to lead others through the course I set up a Meet-up event outside the course myself. I expect between the blog post to every school media specialist (which posts the Meet-up dates/locations) and the Meet-up itself I should get some interested folks.

I am signing up to take it again and here’s why. I originally wanted to use the in-course Meet-up feature, but immediately discovered it is disabled. In tweeting back and forth with one of the facilitators she said she pointed out that Coursera allows anyone to retake a course and she would still issue me PLUs I earn, it is up to our state’s Professional Standards Commission if they accept those credits. She points out how she has changed the content (which I am already noting), and that is why she feels at peace with issuing me the PLUs. I feel like it is not such a big risk for me, I want to walk alongside my colleagues taking the course anyway. And I know I am going to pick up items which I did not take note of on my first go-around. After this I will know if a “retake” of a Coursera course by the same name can yield PLUs too.

Of course I would love to see educators earn PLUs toward recertification, but I am passionate about this content and think every teacher could benefit from it. Since our district offers all of our staff access to the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS) I think we need to help inform those teachers in a variety of ways how they can selectively offer some content online/asynchronously to their students/parents. I felt like this course was very rigorous and I came away with products I could use right away. That is the kind of course teachers want to take!

If you want to check out the content for yourself, here is an OER version available posted on their website.

The other two MOOCs which I highly recommend are Georgia Virtual School’s #eTeacherTOOL and Becoming a Blended Learning Designer #BlendKit2014 through Canvas Network presented by University of Central Florida. I am not sure that the former lends itself to group progression and the latter is a short enough series and offers enough levels of participation that a group might not be necessary.