It is without doubt that there has been a shift in the learning paradigm.
My own foray into online learning is testament to the incredibly high value I place on this form of learning. Being able to learn anything, anytime, anywhere of my own choosing is incredibly satisfying. Knowing that at any age and stage of life one is able to learn, discover and explore is exhilarating and for those who’ve been following my blogging for a while, it’s clear that I am very excited to share my own new found discoveries!
While the emphasis of this week’s assignment in my online course with Syba Academy is on the evolution undergoing education in our schools, my experiences with online learning as a professional continue to be an inspiration. Meeting other professionals in cyberspace with whom I can interact and be guided continually propels my engagement as a self-motivated learner. As more and more teachers engage in this style of learning, we become role models for our students.
As MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) gain a foothold as legitimate ‘houses of learning’ our previously held notion of the sanctity of schools, universities and tertiary colleges is being challenged. While not all of academia is applauding this development, many universities are embracing the challenge and are making course content available online.
Taking the time this week to stop and explore MOOCs has been mind-blowing! I’ve only now come to more fully appreciate the vastness of the online learning world.
My first ‘look-see’ this week was to sign up to Coursera which, according to its headline banner, offers the world’s best online courses for free. With a current offering of 542 courses from 107 different partners (teaching institutions) and 5,544,793 Courserians (students) a keen learner would have to be hard pressed to not sign up to this amazing free resource!
While it took me a little fiddling to refine my search for courses that I may be interested in, it was pretty easy to find my way around. I soon discovered that there are a host of both verified and non-verified courses available. It’s impressive to see that some of the participating institutions included Stanford University, Duke University and John Hopkins University, to name but a few, as well as such prestigious institutions as American Museum of Natural History. And if you think that only US based universities participate, you are wrong. Among the many schools of learning to show up in my random searches was The University of Edinburgh, Copenhagen Business School, University of Manchester as well as none other than our own – The University of New South Wales and University of Melbourne. Interested in a specific university? Check out the range of partners and select one to see if there is a course offering of interest. I discovered that many specific courses have a video promo which expands on the comprehensive course outline.
Tearing myself away from this first exploration was pretty hard, but once I did, my next stop was a look at edX which includes the following promo on the bottom of its homepage:
EdX offers interactive online classes and MOOC’s from the world’s best universities. Online courses from MITx, HarvardX, BerkeleyX, UTx and many other universities. Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more. EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT.
Avoiding the need to sign up to this one, I was able to see the wide range of select schools of learning from the menu at the top of their webpage. Some pretty impressive universities are listed here including of course, the Australian National University. I quite liked the fact that they include a video promo of the site which gives a good feel of what’s offered.
A slightly different kind of online learning experience is offered by udemy. Posing the question of ‘Who do you want to be?’ in it’s promo video, courses offered by udemy are developed by world experts and focus on interactive online learning modules. All the courses offered on udemy are developed, created and owned by the experts who design them and, as I discovered, some are free and others you need to pay for.
Tempted by the big search bar in the middle of the homepage, I was quickly able to traverse the wide range of courses available without the need to log in. With a wide range of popular education courses to choose from I found myself avidly exploring. For just $19 maybe I could finally learn to juggle or for $99 I could pick up some tips on how to write my life story. The range of courses is immense. Looking at the offerings reminded me somewhat of browsing the twice yearly CAE (Council of Adult Education – a mecca here in Melbourne) catalogue which nowadays can also be viewed online.
Since 2008 Academic Earth has curated links to over 750 online courses and 8,500 individual online lectures on topics included in the categories of art & design, business, computer science, engineering, humanities, mathematics, medicine and healthcare, science, social science and test preparation. Aiming to give students of all ages access to courses they may never otherwise experience, these online courses can supplement existing coursework or just be learning for the sake of learning.
With an impressive range of universities listed, it’s possible to view specifics of courses offered by simply selecting a university. I quickly discovered that links take you to videos of lectures. Some appear on Youtube, others I discovered are on iTunes U.
Having not taken the time to yet explore the iTunes U app which I installed some time ago on both my iPhone and iPad, I was, to put it mildly, stunned by the immense wealth of material available out there. Within minutes I had whipped out my iPad and spent a while wandering around. A click here and a click there, I was mesmerized by the possibilities of both learning and instructing! Before I knew it, I was back on my laptop exploring the iTunes Apple in Education website. WOW! Clearly I need to set aside some hours to get into this.
Phew! With so much to explore in this week’s focus, it’s clear I need to set aside a chunk of time to see how I can explore some of the many virtual classrooms and tools available to enable me to create online lessons for my students.
While I’m currently enjoying the opportunity of exploring Edmodo (the online course I’m completing uses this), I need to take time to look at both Moodle and udemy. So too must I return to iTunes U where I inadvertently ended up registering as an instructor! It’s clear to me now, that these virtual classrooms are very different to the Nings which I’ve joined and participated in over the last few years.
I also need to take time to look at the many tools available to create lessons. Podcasting: evoca, podomatic, Spreaker; Screencapture and Video Presentations: Screencastomatic, Jing, screenr, knovio; and iPad Applications and Digital Textbooks: inkling, kno, iBooks. Some of these tools have been on my ‘to do’ list for quite a while!!
Once I do get through looking at all these, I must of course settle down to figuring out how best they can be used in the classroom. Engaging students with Twitter and Five reasons why Youtube rocks the classroom are just two course reading suggestions. But I know there are heaps more articles out there!!
Did I say this last week? “Time ….. where art thou?!”