Tag Archives: coursera

MOOCs for High School

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are one major result of the Open Educational Resource (OER) movement. They have been around a few years, but really took off with major visibility and growth last year. The best known MOOC organizations are edX, Coursera, and Udacity.

These are all organizations founded by universities or growing out of universities, and they are focused on undergraduate-level courses.

What about extending MOOCs to the high school level? A CalTech MOOC on machine learning, targeted at the undergraduate level,  attracted roughly 10,000 high school level students out of the 100,000 who signed up. Clearly there is interest coming from high school students!

Brown University may be the first to have created a MOOC for the high school level, with the preparation of an overview course on engineering under development. The course is designed to expose students to the possibilities available to them in engineering majors and careers. A blog from the New York Times discusses this new MOOC for high school students.

There are at least a dozen courses delivered by M.I.T.’s Open Courseware program (the original basis of edX) that have been addressed to high school students and not only in math, science and engineering disciplines (including astrophysics, calculus and audio electronics). There are also courses in the humanities as well. Online resources including videos of lectures and other course materials for these are available at:

Image from an MIT high school course: Crab Nebula X-ray pulsar, image courtesy of NASA/CXC/SAO/F. Seward et al.

Image from an MIT high school course: Crab Nebula X-ray pulsar. Credit:  NASA/CXC/SAO/F. Seward et al.

There’s even a Spanish language MOOC resource currently linked from Curriki which could be useful for advanced Spanish language learners in high school.

What do you think, do you see this as a possibility in your own community or district? Do you know of other high school level MOOCs currently available or under development?

MOOCs going Massive

By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

A recent article in the NY Times suggested this is the “Year of the MOOC”. The article refers to the rapid growth of MOOCs as “a revolution that has higher education gasping”.

What is a MOOC? MOOC is an abbreviation for massive open online course, in other words a way of delivering a given course to many thousands of people via the Internet. According to Wikipedia:

“A massive open online course (MOOC) is a type of online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web. MOOCs are a recent development in the area of distance education, and a progression of the kind of open education ideals suggested by open educational resources.”

So the principles are open access, promoting a course to many learners, and participation – active learning. The NY Times article noted that “three things matter most in online learning: quality of material covered, engagement of the teacher and interaction among students”

This Youtube video introduces the philosophy of MOOCs http://youtu.be/eW3gMGqcZQc ; it is less than 5 minutes in length and is worth a look.


Right now MOOCs are primarily a higher education phenomenon. The best-known MOOCs are Coursera and edX. Coursera begun at Stanford, and now 34 universities are contributing content at coursera.org. Presently there are 203 courses being offered at Coursera.

edX is led by MIT and Harvard, and now includes UC Berkeley and the University of Texas system (9 universities) as contributors at edx.org. Anant Agarwal, MIT Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and President of edX has stated “This is the single biggest change in education since the printing press.”

Actually, at Curriki we think open courseware is the biggest change in education since the printing press. Open courseware, such as that available on Curriki, is the progenitor of MOOCs. We have not yet seen MOOCs take off in the K12 space, but it seems only a matter of time. One could imagine this happening initially on a district-wide basis, with a standard course based on open courseware (such as Curriki’s Algebra 1 course) being accessed by students across a district. The teachers in each classroom would have roles as facilitators and coaches, thereby promoting higher levels of individualized attention.