Is there a role for MOOCs in schools?

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Massive Open Online Courses are well-established now as a tool for higher education providers to share academic knowledge – but could they be set to revolutionise secondary education too? Howard Sharron explores the possibilities for schools.

For those that don’t follow emerging internet trends, MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – have been causing a bit of a stir.

They have been recruiting millions of users around the world who cannot afford the enormous education fees being levied by western elite universities. They are free to access, provide in-depth online learning, and, for a premium, can be validated as points earning courses towards real degrees.

MOOCs have been called the most disruptive technology to hit education for a generation and, it has been claimed, will transform the way we view higher and, eventually, school education.

If school leavers and adults can make such good use of MOOCs, why not school age children? Indeed OCR, Cambridge University Press and Raspberry Pi have already collaborated to release a MOOC to support the new computing GCSE (see the case studies ‘Flipping learning at Oakham School’ and ‘Broadening horizons at Ernulf Academy’ at the end of this article).

What’s so great about MOOCs?
The attractions are obvious – they are free to buy into, one teacher can reach a large number of students and needn’t be located in any of the client schools, and there is no marking. The MOOC can supplement existing provision in a school or indeed provide a service where none exists at present.

The excitement has percolated down to the DfE, which has…


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