A new, free online course is aimed at giving thousands of district administrators around the country help in using technology to meet their schools' needs.
The project, which is being dubbed a "MOOC-Ed," or a massively open online course for educators, is the work of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington-based advocacy organization that has been heavily involved in promoting digital education, and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, at North Carolina State University's College of Education.
The course is to be the first of several massive, open, online courses focused on education organized by the Friday Institute. It's a seven-week class that will run from April 8 through May 24 and is specifically designed for school and district leaders, including superintendents, principals, curriculum directors, tech directors, finance officials, lead teachers, and others responsible for planning the use of technology in K-12.
District administrators and others taking part need to commit between two and four hours a week to the class, according to alliance and university officials.
Participants in the administrators' MOOC—the project calls it an "online open course"—will receive information on broad themes, such as how technology is changing the way students learn. They will also focus on how school leaders can set meaningful goals for digital learning, based on student academic outcomes and other measures. The alliance and the university say the course will integrate "crowdsourcing" or collaborative learning experiences that allow school administrators and other participants to share ideas and resources, and give each other feedback.
The course is a part of an effort called Project 24, run by the alliance, which is aimed at helping districts plan and use technology effectively.
MOOCs have established a strong presence in colleges and universities, and supporters see them as opening new avenues for increasing students' and the public's access to curriculum and other resources that were once restricted to much smaller audiences.
The future of MOOCs in K-12 environments is uncertain, as we explained in a recent Education Week story. Even so, the new effort offers one example of the interest in using MOOCs not just to help students, but to assist school personnel by improving their familiarity with technology and describing its implications for classroom instruction and school management.