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MOOCs vs. Traditional Instruction: Which is Best for College Prep?

Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs) are proving to be useful to high schools students to help them prepare for the world of higher education.

“The term MOOC emerged out of higher education seven years ago, where it has come to describe a set of open-access unlimited-enrollment classes that some believe can transform the college experience," according to Avi Wolfman-Arent of NewsWorks, 

MOOCs have a high potential of reaching more students than a simple classroom can. This may in turn make educators feel that students need more substance to their education than MOOCs may be able to provide. The argument makes for a perplexing situation. Can these MOOCs actually pose benefits to students before they reach higher education?

“Amplify, which is run by a prominent ed reformer and owned by media kingpin Rupert Murdoch, is among those looking to change that,” says Arent on the beneficial nature of MOOCs in high school.

“Amplify’s AP Computer Science course—now in its second year—is like a MOOC with training wheels. In addition to the online component, districts and states can pay for teaching materials—including a 600-plus-page manual--that they then distribute to on-site ‘coaches.’”

Arent’s article states that students learn by watching online videos and asking questions pertaining to the content. The responsibility of the coaches is to make sure that students are following through with their work. MOOCs have the ability to make students responsible for learning the material as most college level professors do.

“At Caesar Rodney High School, that meant students like senior Ryann Perez were able to take an advanced coding class for the first time,” reported Arent who stated that high schools in Delaware are beginning to offer MOOCs geared towards AP Computer Science.

“Perez wants to be a computer science major in college, but had no prior background in Java, the computer language taught in AP Computer science.”

It’s already become mandatory for the majority of students nationwide to have some use and general knowledge of technology. In today’s society general knowledge won’t seem to cut it.

“The fact is, students are graduating into a world that doesn’t just use computers, but really [is] informed by them,” said Rebecca Dovi, the MOOCs' creator, according to the article.

That being said, Dovi still believes that teachers in classrooms are “pivotal” to student’s education. MOOCs prove to be an aid for students looking for extra practice in Computer Science, a skill that will help them become better prepared for life beyond high school. The question here is will they be able to coexist with traditional instruction if there is a hike in use?

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor

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