What is a MOOC? (see video below) It is a Massive Open Online Course. Most times it is completely free. Carnegie Mellon offers “No instructors, no credits, no charge.” Forty public universities will offer free online courses with full credit starting spring 2013. Why would a school do that well in an effort to entice potential students to sign up for a full degree program. But for high school students this could be a win fall. Imagine students taking college level course for credit instead of a study hall. There is even one set up with a residential plan http://mooccampus.org/ Students can take MOOC course and live in on a college campus for about $12,000 a year.
I am currently using a MOOC to teach AP Computer Science. I come from a small school district and often filling a class like AP Computer Science is difficult. I have 6 students this year in AP Computer Science which is way below the threshold to run a class. I feel strongly about students coding so I offered to teach it in the same class period as my Web Design class. The Web Design Class has a lot of project time so I thought I could alternate days and make it work. Fortunately I did not have too. I found the MOOC at amplify.com This is a free AP Computer Science course taught by a live teacher with live support. I have my students on computers during class time while I am teaching my Web Design Class. I check in on their status using the dashboard provided by Amplify.
In this dashboard I can see an overview of the entire class and see a calendar of where we are and what is coming up next. I can also see a quick look at how my students are doing compared to the rest of the students in the course. I can click on the name of any student and see exactly what they have accomplished. The students post questions they have about the content in the MOOC forum where the amplify staff respond within hours. Amplify also provides class resources to be used in parallel with the course. These are PDF handouts that I can use in my class room to supplement what the students are learning online. My students have mixed feeling about it as Amplify is still working out some of the bugs. I have found them to be very responsive to any suggestions. There is also a forum for us Coaches to work in to help our students. We can post questions we have about the content and how best to help our students. The answers are posted there for us which is very helpful as not all the coaches know Java. If you would like your students to sign up it is not too late. Once the content has posted each week it stays posted. A student can jump in at any time. I have one student who is doing this completely on his own and just plans to take the AP test in the spring. If you would like help setting up a local MOOC for Amplify in your school or you would like to join my class to learn Java leave a comment.