Are MOOCs the Next Staff Development "Thing?"

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MOOCs - Massive Online Open Course - are becoming readily available. I recently completed a MOOC titled "Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success" run by Dr. Curtis Bonk, Professor at Indiana University. The five-week course consisted of mainly of readings, live video presentations, and blog and discussion board posts. It was a fun course that I could poke away at in my spare time. Even the live video presentations were recorded so if I missed one, it was nearly immediately available to me. I also earned participation badges - more on that in a moment.


The Inside Higher Ed site recently posted an article on MOOCs. It appears that Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor will all be offering MOOCs in the near future. What's in it for them to offer free courses? Increased awareness for potential future students who will pay for credits and a degree. So it's advertising.

What's in it for staff development? Lots. Tons. Provided there is a way to prove you took the course and met the minimal requirements (if any). If there are requirements and you can prove you met them, well heck, what's better than that for professional development? It's free and you can do it from your desk.

So how does one prove they took a course and "passed?" One way is the up and coming Open Badges system from Mozilla.


With badges, you have an external (to yourself) validation of course completion. You can display your earned badges for all to see, and others can see who issued the badges. Since the badge system is designed to be universal and thus sits outside any particular online course management system, you can collect badges from a variety of MOOCs without any technological hassles. Sounds like a great combo to me, and I hope MOOC offerers pick up on this.

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