Designing a MOOC on training teachers to use ICT

mooc-drawThis blog post describes summarily the steps the OUNL team took to design the HANDSON MOOC on training teacher with ICT. The terms of the HANDSON project stipulated that the entire design should seek to stimulate being creative on the part of the teacher and ought to make room for creativity ­enhancing techniques in their design activities. The reason for these demands is that all too often teachers seek the security of what has already been invented and thus miss out on opportunities to create something genuinely novel and challenging. And of course, the quality of teaching can only be improved with a regular influx of novel ideas, techniques and practices.

A systematic literature search using such terms as ICT, teaching, creativity yielded a massive 500 peer ­reviewed papers. This number was reduced to manageable proportions by applying additional criteria and individually screening the most promising papers. The remaining set of papers revealed a number of interesting findings, that we took to heart. Thus, teachers believe in the importance of being creative and using technology, yet struggle to keep up with the pace of technology development. The current emphasis on testing and on being accountable is hardly conducive to creatively incorporating ICT in teaching. And yet, including ICT motivates students, betters their attitude towards learning and stimulates peer interaction in class. However, the literature also shows that the inclusion of technology only works with appropriate educational designs. Experiential learning type of designs, such as inquiry ­based learning and problem ­based learning, seem particularly powerful. Also, the design should reflect the fact that teachers are adult professional learners, who need sufficient freedom to follow their preferred learning path. Finally, the MOOC format implies restrictions, if only because the numbers of students may be too large to include intensive tutor­student interactions. A paper of ours that is in preparation discusses in much more details our considerations and findings.

Following the literature search, a first pilot course was designed with these principles in mind. Its evaluation revealed various issues, such little context for the creativity techniques, too much direct instruction, too little peer interaction. The current second iteration was then planned to resolve these issues. Importantly, it makes use of Learning Design Studio as a design format. The course starts with an advance organiser (first unit).

In the second and third unit, the students need to delineate the educational problem they want to solve by carrying out a needs analysis. First they interview stake holders, subsequently they consolidate the results of the interviews by describing an archetypical person who ‘owns’ the problem they want to work on (‘writing a persona’). This is followed by a phase in which ideas about solutions are generated (ideation), using various creativity techniques. This fourth unit is followed by a unit in which the participants are asked to develop a prototypical solution for their chosen problem (unit five). The sixth and final unit is devoted to evaluating their prototypical solution, again using various technologies.

It is hoped that using such a structured course design approach, which employes creativity techniques and technologies, helps teachers to become better designers of instruction; better, in that they are able to follow a more structured approach, but also better since they have become conversant with a number of helpful creativity techniques and learning and design technologies. And perhaps also better because they have become part of a large network of teachers who, by the mere fact of joining the Handson MOOC, have shown to be knowledgeable peers. Such peers may in due time be valuable resources in their own right. Only time will tell if such networking effects will materialise.

By Peter Sloep, Slavi Stoyanov (OUNL Partners)

Posted in Creativity, ICT, Learning Tagged with: , ,