The digital learning transition MOOC for educators: Exploring a personalized and scalable approach to professional development

Mr Glenn Kleiman and Ms Mary Ann Wolf | Presentation (PDF)

The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University and Wolf Ed 


What is the potential for Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) in the professional development of teacher leaders? What role does mobile learning play in this approach to professional development? 

With interest and availability in MOOCs growing quickly for adult and student learners, the Friday Institute at North Carolina State University in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education launched a MOOC for Educators (MOOC-Ed) on the Digital Learning Transition in April 2013 and offered the course again in the fall of 2013. With a total of nearly 4,500 registrants between the two courses and 2,000 contributors to the online forums from all fifty states and nearly 70 countries, this MOOC-Ed aimed to engage participants in self-directed, peer supported learning in a structure that provided them with multi-media, rich content, job-embedded projects, and meaningful interaction with experts. 

The analytics reviewed and research conducted on the first MOOC-Ed solidified that this approach is promising for district and school teams and influenced the improvements to the series, a blended approach for graduate students, and pedagogy for other MOOC-Eds related to Common Core implementation. Findings also indicated that participants do not always spend long periods of time in the course, but rather access resources and discussions for 10-12 minutes at a time multiple times per week. This just in time approach is well suited for mobile learning and for teachers who often reference a lack of time as a challenge for participating in professional development. 

This session will share the design elements that helped balance the ‘talking head’ approach while maintaining the 24/7, self-directed benefits of MOOCs and the potential and challenges for MOOC-Eds as an integral, cost-effective component of a district or school’s professional development offerings. Blended approaches to the MOOC-Ed, including a graduate wrap-around course offered in conjunction with the MOOC-Ed at NC State University will be explored. Specific hands-on experiences within the MOOC-Ed, samples from the discussions, trends, and research findings will be shared to provide context to the discussion. Policy challenges and recommendations, including teacher certification requirements and professional development requirements, will be considered. 

Participants will be asked about their perspective on the MOOC for Educators as a scalable approach to professional development, as well as specific ideas around the importance of certificates of completion, cohorts from local areas along with access to colleagues around the world, and specific accommodations that may make professional development on mobile devices more viable. Using findings and experiences from the first two offerings of the MOOC-Eds, the session will allow participants to experience a MOOC-Ed and consider how it represents effective professional development for teachers, while providing input on how to make the MOOC-Ed a meaningful opportunity for teachers.




Mr Glenn Kleiman is the Executive Director of the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and a Professor at the NC State University College of Education. Prior to joining North Carolina State University in 2007, he was a Vice President at Education Development Centre, Inc. (EDC) in Newton, Massachusetts, where he directed the Centre for Online Professional Education and was co-director of the Northeast and Islands Regional Education Lab. He was also on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and chair of the Harvard/EDC Leadership and the New Technologies Institutes. In the early days of education technology, Mr Kleiman was founder of Teaching Tools Software, Inc. and the author of Brave New Schools: How Computers Can Change Education (Prentice Hall, 1984).

 Ms Mary Ann Wolf is the CEO of Wolf Ed. She co-directs the MOOC-Ed on the Digital Learning Transition and wrote Culture Shift: Teaching in a Learner-Centred Environment; she co-authored two papers on mobile learning for UNESCO and CoSN and the Leveraging Teacher Preparation 2.0 for CTQ. She wrote Innovate to Educate: Education System [Re] Design for Personalized Learning for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the Softward and Information Industry Association (SIIA). Previously, Ms Wolf was the Executive Director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and a fifth grade teacher. She received her PhD in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Virginia, her MEd from the George Washington University and her Bachelors in Accounting and Marketing from Georgetown University. Ms Wolf lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband and three children.








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