1. We're here to help you stay connected and progress together. Read about MoocLab's response to COVID-19 ►

    Dismiss Notice

Are MOOCs right for High School Kids?

Posted in 'Articles by the MoocLab Community' started by Carolyn, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. Carolyn

    Carolyn Founder at MoocLab Staff Member

    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Suffolk, UK
    Are MOOCs right for High School Kids?

    Author: Carolyn McIntyre, CEO at MoocLab.club

    James, a 17 year old high school student from rural Georgia in the US, took his first MOOC when he was just 15. Since then, he has successfully completed 4 others in a variety of subject areas. With hopes of pursuing a career in chemical engineering, MOOCs have helped set James in the right direction. “MOOCs have definitely helped me decide on my future major,” he says. “Without them, I probably would not have gotten the opportunity to explore different areas, such as energy.”

    [​IMG]

    How MOOCs caught James’ eye

    James became aware of MOOCs when his mum sent him a text one day after reading an article in the New York Times. The text went something along the lines “How did that Chemistry test go? Also, Google ‘MOOCs’ when you get home.” James did exactly that, and there was no looking back after that. “I took them just because they looked interesting, plus I really hate to quit something after I start it.” James’ first MOOC was about the pharmaceutical industry. “I remember sitting down one night and watching a video. And another. Then one more. I realized I not only actually understood what was going on in the introduction, but I was actually learning something. I could answer the practice questions without skimming back through the video. This was really appealing to me and it was about 11:30 when I quit doing the activities. That was my best experience.” James went on to complete further science based courses on the MOOC provider platform, edX. He took a few others too, but didn’t finish them. For example, he got through several weeks of a “Cooking in Chemistry” class, but had to quit when he became too busy with 3 Advanced Placement classes at school. Advanced Placement (AP) is a program in the United States and Canada, created by the College Board, which offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students.

    “It takes a special kind of high schooler to take a MOOC”

    James goes to a public high school that has a limited selection of classes which is partly the reason for his interest in MOOCs. But James’ keen interest in taking his education into his own hands remains unusual. None of his friends have ever taken one: “I think it takes a special kind of high schooler to take a MOOC. The virtual school program is becoming more and more popular at my school, but only about 60% of these students pass. Most of these students would quit after maybe two weeks. There is only one person I might recommend them to.” When asked if he thinks MOOCs are well suited to High School aged students, James replied that most students would not be interested enough or motivated enough to complete one. “They are pretty repetitive: watch a video, answer two questions, watch another video, match up some terms, take a quiz, repeat”, he adds. Drawing from his personal experience with online courses, James believes MOOCs need to be more interactive overall if they are to capture the attention and interest of high schoolers.


    Questionable grading scales and stuffy forums

    James doesn’t think the MOOCs he’s taken were particularly difficult, though. He says, “As long as I put in effort, I could easily get an A.” However, in some instances, James questioned the grading scales used, particularly with a peer reviewed assignment which represented 30% of the final grade. “The grading scale was overly-generous, and I was used to AP-style rubrics where I would barely get a point for my thesis. So when someone vaguely mentioned a concept and still got a point in the practice papers, I was pretty shocked. I reread that practice paper three times to get used to the scale. I was a consistent grader after seeing the examples; I made sure to give everyone full credit for their work and I took the time to leave meaningful comments. However, I still got one grade out of three on my paper that was WAY lower than the other two. Their comment contradicted the grade they assigned me. It averaged out with the others to take 16% off my final average. I was pretty mad.”

    MOOC forums are another thorn in James’ side. “They are usually just people posting required (or encouraged) little discussions about the assignments”, he says. For this reason, James rarely interacts in the forums, although he does have a look to see what other people are having trouble with or talking about. Mostly, though, the discussions are not about the exercises or quizzes, so he doesn’t find them particularly helpful. However, James loves the idea behind MoocLab, the new centralised MOOC and Online Learning Community Website: “I absolutely love the idea of MoocLab. MOOC forums are such a pain to use and the social media associated with them seems to be not worth getting into. A centralized website would be excellent.” He feels it will give students an opportunity to connect with each other without using the “stuffy forums” in the MOOCs. “I can actually maintain a conversation outside of a MOOC in a centralized location”, he adds.

    Online courses will never replace traditional classes

    Overall, James’ MOOC journey so far has been a very successful one, and he sees online learning as a useful supplement to traditional classes, sometimes even an alternative. When asked if he intended to take any more MOOCs, James replied, “Definitely! I am probably going to take AP Environmental Science and possibly one in advanced Spanish.” But, in his opinion, e-learning will never present a threat to physical campuses. “Students need hands on experience and also skills working with people. An online class cannot replace these. For example, I cannot go in my kitchen and do a chemistry lab involving a fume hood. I don’t have one, and I’m pretty sure no one else does either.”

    MOOCs for Highschoolers

    It is the likes of James that the new High School initiative from MOOC provider edX hopes to capture. The MOOC platform has recently launched a series of MOOCs geared specifically towards high school aged kids. The AP level courses taught by high school instructors and professors from Berkeley, Rice and MIT cover subjects such as physics, environmental science and chemistry. EdX CEO Anant Agarwal is hopeful middle and high school students will grow to represent a third of their learners, and he thinks “high schools will embrace this, because learners can directly take some of these high school courses”. The big question to consider here is whether James is an exception to the rule: do school aged students really have the drive and self-motivation required to complete these online courses? Certainly, James is proof that it CAN be done.

    First published on MoocLab.club 12th November 2014
     
    AD Coursera logo Build skills for a top job in any industry. Explore hundreds of business courses on Coursera today. AD Udemy logo You can learn it too! Our top-rated courses now starting at just $11.99.
  2. Sky

    Sky Member

    You need a lot of self-discipline and motivation to complete a MOOC, something that can be difficult for adults let alone teenagers. I think high school kids would need closer monitoring and support if MOOC providers want to target that market.
     
  3. MattB

    MattB Active Member

    Most people haven't even heard of MOOCs before. Unless the actual schools themselves get behind the MOOC movement, I doubt MOOCs for highschoolers would take off.
     
  4. Orpheus

    Orpheus Member

    Gender:
    Male
    It would appear that the initial challenge is to create general awareness of MOOCS and alert High Schools of their very existence. Thereafter, the challenge of promoting and defining the possible advantages to teenagers would be a very interesting project.
     
    Carolyn likes this.
  5. BMint

    BMint Active Member

    Gender:
    Female
    MOOCs are not generally great educational experiences and by themselves are only suited for students who are motivated, independent learners. Today most MOOCs have been designed with too little attention to actual learning due to poor pedagogy. This makes MOOCs unsuitable for high school students.

    Also, the K-12 market demands human resources - the teachers who interact with the students- and this is costly.
     
  6. Nina

    Nina Active Member

    Location:
    UK
    MOOCs essentially provide an avenue for gifted students to unlock opportunities.
     
  7. Orpheus

    Orpheus Member

    Gender:
    Male
    Hopefully in the fullness of time students will become more aware of MOOCs, which will in turn provide them with a choice......to MOOC or not to MOOC, that is the question.
     
    Carolyn likes this.
  8. kajalsengupta

    kajalsengupta Member

    Gender:
    Female
    This is a very innovative idea. A forum for MOOCs. WOW. Come to think of it many people are not even aware of MOOCs. Hope this forum really helps MOOC learners. I am an Online Physics teacher ( http://www.wiziq.com/KajalSenguptaPhysics ) and a great supporter of it. I believe these are early days for the concept and will evolve into a better form in future.
     
    Orpheus and Carolyn like this.
  9. Carolyn

    Carolyn Founder at MoocLab Staff Member

    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Suffolk, UK
    Thank you for your support @kajalsengupta. You are right that many people still ignore the existence of MOOCs or remain sceptical, but I believe that will gradually change and that MOOCs (or a derivative of them) will become mainstream in the corporate markets and hopefully in both secondary and higher education.
     
  10. Susan

    Susan Active Member

    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    UK
    There's an interesting article on Mooc Scoop on the subject of online learning at school. Follow the link: http://sco.lt/63GFqD
     
  11. Duke

    Duke Active Member

    Gender:
    Male
    MOOCs as we know them today are not the ideal resource for high school students who need more personalised monitoring and feedback. Hopefully the secondary school sector will be able to adapt the MOOC concept to cater specifically for this audience which could potentially benefit enormously from this type of learning in the right circumstances.
     
  12. JonathanH

    JonathanH New Member

    Gender:
    Male
    From the LinkedIn post about this same question that I posted last week:

    While the days of high school have long passed me and I have moved on to better things, I will say I think that high school students interested in taking MOOC's is a huge plus and demonstrates passion, potential and determination towards a subject and/or career. For example, Edx offers AP courses for students wanting to get a jump in their educational studies and knowledge. It can help with landing jobs at an early age as well as getting into a good school.

    I wish that while I was in High School I had those MOOC's available to me on the fly. Like I always say "It's best to teach them when they are young and their minds are fresh". I also like to point out that I strongly support MOOC's all the way and they have forever revolutionized education as we know it.
     
    Carolyn likes this.

Share This Page



  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice