In February, Daniel Seaton and his colleagues shared data about the very high level of teacher participation (28% identified as past or present teachers) and engagement (over four times more active in discussion forums than non-teachers) in a series of MITx MOOCs. Very interesting article when thinking of teachers as multipliers, mediators and facilitators of learning (and not just transmitters). Unlike earlier MOOC research that has been criticized for being ahistorical, Seaton shares the following example of pre-MOOC massive, open online education:
One of the earliest precursors to modern MOOCs targeted high school teachers in the United States. In 1958, a post-war interpretation of introductory physics called “Atomic-Age Physics” debuted at 6:30 a.m. on the National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) Continental Classroom. Daily viewership was estimated at roughly 250,000 people, and over 300 institutions partnered to offer varying levels of accreditation for the course. Roughly 5,000 participants were certified in the first year. Teachers were estimated to be 1 in 8 of all certificate earners, indicating reach beyond the target demographic of high school teachers. Through its expansion of courses between 1958 and 1963, the Continental Classroom represented a bold approach in using technology to address national needs in education reform. In contrast, the current MOOC era has largely focused on student-centric issues like democratizing access.
Source: Seaton, D.T., Coleman, C., Daries, J., Chuang, I., 2015. Enrollment in MITx MOOCs: Are We Educating Educators? EduCause Review.
Ho, A.D., Chuang, I., Reich, J., Coleman, C.A., Whitehill, J., Northcutt, C.G., Williams, J.J., Hansen, J.D., Lopez, G., Petersen, R., 2015. HarvardX and MITx: Two Years of Open Online Courses Fall 2012-Summer 2014. Social Science Research Network Working Paper Series.
Photo: Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab (1950-1951) (ORAU.com)