A couple of announcements this week point to a growing role for massively open online courses in K-12. The Saylor Foundation, the most interesting nonprofit in open education that no one seems to have heard of, launched a program of Common-Core aligned K-12 courses. And Lumen Learning, David Wiley’s startup which I wrote about earlier in the blog, likewise released a set of new “course frameworks”–these appear to be aimed at the community college level, but Lumen also consults with school districts on the adoption of open resources.
Three things are encouraging about the way MOOCs are being defined in K-12 at least if we go by these two announcements.
One is that the resources in each case are truly open–Creative Commons licensed, totally free to adapt, share, remix and reuse.
The second is that they are carefully pulled together and curated. Saylor notes, “[K-12 content development manager Angelyn] Pinter leads a team of 18 course designers (who are experienced educators), an editor, and members of a content development team. K-12 courses will undergo the same rigorous vetting and peer review process that Saylor.org developed alongside its existing 280+ college-level and professional courses.”
And the third encouraging aspect of this development is that these MOOCs are clearly being framed as tools for educators, not wholesale replacements for educators. The Lumen “course frameworks” amount to curated collections of open resources from around the web that serve as a blueprint that, equally, learners or teachers can follow. The Saylor courses are pitched, per the press release, for adoption by students or parents who want to go beyond what their schools offer, but equally by teachers and entire schools that want fresh collections of Common Core-aligned multimedia lessons to use.
At least in the smarter conversations amongst people who have been thinking about this for awhile, we’re moving quickly away from the assumption that MOOCs are going to entirely replace the classroom experience for any but a small fraction of potential learners. It’s equally clear that they will completely change that classroom experience. If I had a child in grade school right now I would definitely want a self-guided MOOC to be one part of their educational explorations, and I would also want their teachers to take advantage of open learning resources in their own “flipped classrooms.”