MOOCs, museums and schools: natural partners and processes for learning

David Greenfield, USA

This is a formal paper.

During the past 25 years, educational technology and computer-based-training has evolved from slide and overhead projectors to CD-ROM to web-based and mobile technologies.

The pedagogy has also evolved and changed. In schools, CBT of the 1980’s gave way to the push technology of the 1990s. Courses took place on closed, local networks, interactions between students and instructors was limited, if at all, and the model of instruction was “sage on the stage” where the instructor simply presented content similar to the talking heads of television news shows.

In the 1990’s, Learning or classroom management systems (LMS and CMS) were introduced. This gave students additional tools and wider access to courses and materials. Yet, there were still limited interactions between student and teachers and teachers continued to use the sage-on-the stage model.

During the 2000s, learning managements systems increased tools (such as testing and assessment) and the technology and learning was centralized and only available to registered students, during the course of the semester.  He learning model continued to be about content acquisition, Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, video and audio become available and the instructor became a “guide on the side.”

Development of digital educational material in museums developed along a parallel course- sometimes museums were on the bleeding edge of content development, and sometimes there was a bit of a lag. Many museum educators were actively involved in exploring how digital technologies could benefit their missions of providing quality content to schools.

The recent development of MOOCs (massive open online courses) can provide museums with valuable possibilities for education, community outreach and multi-disciplinary collaboration. MOOCs use decentralized networks (both technological and communal) and provide process-not-device driven educational content in semi and informal learning environments where the students desire to learn overshadows the desire for grades. Althou0gh schools such as Stanford and Harvard are developing MOOCs, but they have not been fully adapted by museums (partially due to their novelty and lack of understanding of process).

In this paper, I will present the results of my current research about MOOCs in museum education. Some of the ideas addressed include: the overlap of education theory and practical applications; lessons learned from academic MOOCs; cost of development; resource sharing; multi-cultural communication for global MOOCs; appropriate and accessible technologies; and content development and management.

Because of the novelty of MOOCs, this paper is not meant to be a final study but rather will be a primer on what, how and why, and to be a starting point for dialogues about innovative learning experiences and opportunities for museum education.

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 To be listed—mooc-basics