I am always looking for new ways to learn and teach. Back in the day, when I wanted fresh ideas for teaching English I would read a book on it. I can not count the number of great ideas I got from reading books but a few years ago I discovered an additional way of finding ideas, MOOCS. At first I was skeptical because there were so many people in the course and most assignments didn’t give feedback but hey, neither do books. Gradually I began to appreciate the things MOOCs do have to offer.
What is a MOOC?
MOOC is short for Massive Open Online Course. I love that it includes "massive" even though at first that put me off. I was thinking that MOOCs were a replacement for classroom teaching and I wondered how effective they would be. It wasn't until I took a few of them that I realized, just as reading a book does not replace taking a course, MOOCs do not replace classroom learning. Instead, they are just another way to get ideas and learn. Personally I would prefer to take a course with other students and an instructor but as a classroom instructor myself, I don't really have time to do that.
There are several platforms that offer MOOCs like FutureLearn, Coursera and EdX and each one has a different style.
Generally MOOCs consist of a combination of short videos (these can vary from 2 minutes to almost an hour depending on which platform you choose), some texts (again, these can range from just a few paragraphs to whole chapters from books) and assignments. Generally if you do an assignment in a MOOC, you will be getting feedback from other participants in the course, not the instructors. There are sometimes thousands of participants and no instructor would be able to provide feedback on all of that. You will also be asked to provide feedback for someone else's work.
Great Things About MOOCs.
Not so Great Things About MOOCs.
MOOCS for ESL and EFL Teachers that I Have Taken
1. Short Film in Language Teaching
Institution: The British Film Institute (BFI)
Length: 3 weeks
Format: Short films (under 5 minutes) combined with short readings (usually around a page or so)
Assignments: One peer reviewed unit plan (optional) and you can interact with the other participants through comments after each lesson. The comments sections in FutureLearn courses tend to be quite active.
About this course:
This course starts out by focusing on sounds (not words) and asking students to listen for different things like sound effects, music, and silence. The instructors provide short videos and texts explaining how to use videos in the classroom and how to assign video projects. The second week focuses on how to use the visual content of the video in language classes. The third week focuses on how film uses time and sequencing and how you can use that to create new language learning opportunities. There are videos you can download, worksheets for students, and a lot of opportunities for participants to share their work and ideas. In week three there is an assignment to design a video unit and get feedback from the other participants in the course. I really like that while English is the focus, there are also resources provided in French and Spanish.
2. Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching
Institution: Lancaster University
Length: 4 weeks
Format: Short videos of the instructors explaining why it is important to differentiate instruction for dyslexic students, different activities and strategies to use as well as interviews with dyslexic language learners and the instructors modeling the activities with their own students. There are also some short readings about dyslexia
About this course: While I don’t currently have any students who are identified as dyslexic, many of my students struggle with learning English. I found this course to be extremely useful because it included really practical things teachers can do to help students who have difficulty with reading and writing as well as students who have difficulty remembering and organizing things. As I worked my way through the course, it occurred to me that most of the activities and strategies they were using would be good for all learners, not just students with Dyslexia. The course included videos of teachers actually implementing the strategies as well as interviews with successful language learners with dyslexia so we could hear their perspectives. I highly recommend this course and found it well worth my time.
3. Teaching For Success: Lessons and Teaching
Institution: The British Council
Length: 4 weeks
Format: Short videos with experienced language teachers as well as readings.
About this course: This course is about lesson planning, managing resources, teaching lessons and furthering professional development. I liked the community that developed both during and after this course. It was a great platform to reflect on what you are already doing in your classroom and how you could take it to the next level.
4. Teaching ESL/EFL Reading: A Task-Based Approach
Institution: University of London
Length: 6 weeks
Format: Videos (ranging from 2 to 20 minutes) and readings
About this course: As the title of the course says, this course explores reading and task-based teaching. Many of the early videos are devoted to defining what constitutes task-based activities and what does not. It also explores reading as a communicative activity. It is well structured and generally in-depth. So far I am only three weeks in so I can't comment on the last three weeks of the course.
Courses I Haven't Taken Yet but that Look Interesting
Have you taken any great MOOCs? I am always looking for new courses so, if you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments.
Check out these posts for more great teaching ideas!
Hi, I'm Kia.
Teaching is my passion, I have been teaching for over 20 years in 4 different continents. One of the things I have learned over the years is that I am never done learning about teaching. Both teaching and learning should be fun and inspiring.
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