With every new innovation, there are often creative and unexpected uses. That is what I experienced a couple of months ago when I received and email from the headmaster at Amazing Grace Christian School in Seattle, Washington. As part of their STEM program for the middle school students, they decided to enroll the middle schoolers in college level open online courses at leading Universities. The classroom teacher(s) helps the students through the course, likely creating supplemental face-to-face activities and assisting with the course assignments. This initial pilot was such a success that the use of MOOCs from leading Universities is now a standard part of their STEM program at the school. As a January, students are participating in one of a number of pre-selected MOOCs from places like Stanford, The University of Edinburgh, Duke, The University of Virginia, the University of California – Irvine, and Georgia Tech. Course topics range from computer science to financial planning, energy 101 to human physiology. All of this came after the 7th and 8th graders successfully completed an open world history course from Princeton University.
In some ways, this parallels the uses of MIT’s OpenCourseWare, with individuals and educational institutions around the world re-purposing the content for use at their own institutions. This new experimentation with MOOCs is a fascinating development, and good example of how self-blended learning is emerging as a significant trend in educational technology.