Educational Leadership & Innovation: Until the MOOC is Ready

“An invasion of armies can be resisted, one can not resist an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo, The History of a Crime

Innovation in education is an idea whose time has come. It is no longer possible for educational leadership to concern itself with maintaining the status quo. Whether we agree, or disagree, the entire world is demanding improved stuent learning outcomes. Consequently, simply doing what we have always been doing, is no longer an option.

Everyone knows that the time has come for educational leadership to try something different. The scary thing about this historical change, as we all know, is that things can go horribly wrong. So, to be on the safe side, inventing something totally new is risky. Ask Coursera.

MOOC Meltdown

A class called “Fundamentals of Online Learning: Planning and Application,” taught by Fatima Wirth of Georgia Tech, launched on the online higher-education platform Coursera on Jan. 28 with some 40,000 students signed up. Within days, many of those students—including some who are educators themselves—were taking to Twitter and blogs to complain that the class was unraveling. On Feb. 2, Wirth wrote students to notify them that she was suspending the class “in order to make improvements.”

Inventing, creating, experimenting with totally new ways of teaching and learning, in order to achieve improved student learning outcomes, is not for the faint of heart. For every step forward, the inevitable two steps backward will occur.

The current educational climate has little tolerance for failure, however. That brings to mind a movie quote that most people will be familiar with: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump

The easiest way to ruin a career in education, nowadays, is to try something new…and fail. Once educational leaders deal with that reality, we can can then consider innovation. Innovation allows educators to do the same things we have always been doing, but in a different way, that is better, more efficient, more effective, than the way we have done things before.

Let me give you an example. According to three researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Elmore, Clay and Teitel, “Teaching causes learning.”

Innovation

While this might seem obvious, teaching is often the last focus of education–shifted to the side by standardized testing, changing curricula, faculty room politics, overbearing or aloof administrators, and shrinking school budgets. And yet, argue the book’s authors, the “instructional core”–the essential interaction between teacher, student, and content that creates the basis of learning– is the first place that schools should look to improve student learning.” (See Harvard Education Press, 2009 Instructional Rounds in Education)

The innovation that is being used here is the practice of observing classes. This is done in much the same way that doctors go on rounds together to visit patients in hospitals. The authors write: “Today we are asking schools to do something they have never done before—educate all students to high levels—yet we don’t know how to do that in every classroom for every child. Through this process (instructional rounds), educators develop a shared practice of observing, discussing, and analyzing learning and teaching.

To conclude, I have shared only two examples. One, participating in a MOOC, is a departure from what we have been doing in the past. We know the MOOC will only get better as we subject it to more extensive use. Yet the average teacher/learner is not ready to turn to a MOOC, not yet. It is an invention whose time has not yet come, though few can seriously doubt that day is not far off. In the meantime, we turn to innovation to guide our efforts. As Forrest Gump’s mother said, “You do the best you can with what God gave you.”

So we innovate, doing the things we have always been doing, only better than ever before. Educational leadership, it would seem, is well-advised to embrace innovation, at least for the time being, until the MOOC is ready

MOOC1

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Connectivism and Connected Knowledge: Participating in a MOOC [Kindle Edition]

Book Description

Publication Date: June 1, 2012

Currently, there are two ways to find out what learning in a massive, open, online course is like: One, you can participate in such a course, provided you have the time necessary to invest in such a learning experience. When your time is the limited and precious commodity that we all know it to be, you may not be able to participate, however.

Don’t feel bad about that. That’s life, and for the majority of us mortals, we work for a living in a world that will not let us simply employ our time in any pursuit. We have to be selective, to be balanced with the way in which we invest our time. Families, friends, hobbies, rest & relaxation demand an equal share of the 24 hour clock. So, if we can’t participate in a MOOC, that leaves option two available.

Option Two? You can read this book…

Book Details

File Size: 1741 KB
Print Length: 170 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B0088DQMUS
Text-to-Speech: Enabled

Currently, there are two ways to find out what learning in a massive, open, online course is like: One, you can participate in such a course, provided you have the time necessary to invest in such a learning experience. When your time is the limited and precious commodity that we all know it to be, you may not be able to participate, however.

Don’t feel bad about that. That’s life, and for the majority of us mortals, we work for a living in a world that will not let us simply employ our time in any pursuit. We have to be selective, to be balanced with the way in which we invest our time. Families, friends, hobbies, rest & relaxation demand an equal share of the 24 hour clock. So, if we can’t participate in a MOOC, that leaves option two available.

Option Two? You can read this book…

My #CCK11 Experience
by Thomas Jerome Baker

Stephen: “On Jan. 17 George Siemens and I will launch the third offering of our online course called ‘Connectivism and Connective Knowledge’ – or CCK11. We use the term ‘connectivism’ to describe a network-based pedagogy. The course itself uses connectivist principles and is therefore an instantiation of the philosophy of teaching and learning we both espouse.” This book is the result of my participation in the #CCK11 course

My #CCK11 Experience

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About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Coordinator of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile. He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago 2012 & Edcamp Chile 2013, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago. Edcamp Chile 2013 was held at Universidad UCINF. Thomas is also a member of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he also serves as a reviewer and as the HETL Ambassador for Chile. Thomas enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. Thus far, he has written the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He has published a total of sixty one (61) books, all available on Amazon http://amzn.to/Qxmoec . The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.
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