Opinion
Education Opinion

The MOOC Goes to High School

By Tom Vander Ark — January 29, 2013 3 min read

By Dr. Lisa Duty

(@lisaduty1
),

Senior Director of Innovation

at KnowledgeWorks and a graduate of Columbus City Schools

Last summer when Reynoldsburg City Schools connected with Udacity, the highly
acclaimed provider of free university-level education, it envisioned a new model for learning with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that would come to
life during, not after, high school.

MOOCs are gaining some momentum in the post-secondary arena, bringing learning opportunities that are generally free or inexpensive, to the masses. Viewed
by some as shaking up higher education, and seen by others as mostly hype, MOOCs have moved into a
position of public attention that is certain to endure. While that dialogue continues, some high school students and teachers at eSTEM Academy are drawing
on the best of MOOCs to

deepen and personalize learning

.

Why did they do it?

Marcy Raymond, Principal of eSTEM Academy and K-12 STEM Education at Reynoldsburg began her journey with MOOCs by personally exploring Udacity courses, and
was impressed with the quality of the content. Soon several Reynoldsburg high school teachers at eSTEM joined Raymond in translating Udacity MOOCs in
statistics, physics and computer science into learning experiences for high school and college credit. The Udacity MOOCs helped to solve a critical
challenge faced by Raymond as eSTEM was making the transition to an increasingly blended format: Access to high-quality and relevant content on the
marketplace was lacking. Udacity’s courses were not only rigorous, but designed and taught according to how the brain actually learns.

How do they do it?

Raymond and team cross-walked the common core and Advanced Placement (AP) standards with the Udacity courses, and integrated the MOOC content with a
diverse mix of common core standards in other subject areas, combining AP and dual enrollment courses (often facilitated by teachers that double as
adjuncts at the local community college) as well as service projects and internships of choice where university-level knowledge and competencies are
applied outside the classroom. Using state and local “credit flex” policies, a single teacher facilitates as many as five or six credit hours in a
three-hour block of time--breaking free from seat time, but more importantly creating competency-based models of learning that are connected to the world
of work.

Raymond set a fast pace, putting the tools in the hands of several teachers and students who simply starting testing them out. Her theory: Rapid
experimentation, rapid failure, rapid learning.

How are the MOOCs impacting students and teachers?

Students report that they are able to learn more on their own, a highly valued experience, yet still bring questions to the classroom. Teachers have
developed the capacity to facilitate more credits, more efficiently. The teachers’ process of re-combinating resources toward higher purposes is a continuous exercise in setting high standards
for themselves and for the learning resources. These teachers--and students--aren’t merely consuming MOOCs, they’re using them to create unique learning
pathways.

Is the pilot successful?

About 140 students are taking MOOCs now, and they plan to add another 140 students in the second semester. When asked if there are any data that point to
measurable success, the answer is yes. For instance, students taking blended physics are accelerating faster that students in non-blended physics, and thus
far they’re scoring higher on assessments. Raymond also points to the computer science MOOC which they planned to integrate over a semester--the students
mastered the content at their own pace in just one quarter.

Raymond and team recently appeared before the
Columbus Education Commission
created by
Columbus, Ohio

Mayor Coleman and Council President Ginther to examine the challenges and opportunities facing all children living within the Columbus City Schools
district.

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read