MOOCs are taking the professional development landscape by storm, just look at this extensive list of offerings. After my third MOOC in two months I can say that I haven’t had an itch like this since “the travel bug” back when I experienced  travel for the first time in college. I’m hooked on these incredible (and free!) learning opportunities and here’s why:

  • The #pdrevolution is here (just watch this quick video!), comrades, and I want in! Educators are learning differently today than we did in the past-just check out this read on the evolution of teacher PD. It’s not surprising that the “sit and get” workshop method hasn’t proven effective for teachers. MOOCs offer learning on the complete other end of the spectrum of PD-they are interactive, practitioner-based and help develop a network of like-minded individuals to support our work.
  • MOOCs are truly personalized development-what I mean by this is that they provide an opportunity for learning that originates with one’s passions and interests. For example, while trolling Twitter a few weeks back I noticed the #IMMOOC hashtag taking over my feed. With a little bit of digging around I realized that “my people” were all connecting through a MOOC that was diving into the work of George Couros’ book, Innovator’s Mindset. I had been looking for an excuse to learn more about this since my own post on the topic, and decided this was the perfect way to push my practice on a topic I am particularly passionate about. You can read more on my reflections here
  • MOOCs are adult agency at its finest. When we preach about deeper learning for our students we have to be mindful that we are walking the talk ourselves. While completing  my homework assignment for SCALEs MOOC on Performance Assessment for Deeper Learning I realized that MOOCs provide a wonderful opportunity to model the model of deeper learning. It was an evening during the world series and normally I would have been watching the game but instead I was locked away in my office geeking out-reading articles, looking at sample performance tasks and sketching my ideas out on paper. As I submitted my assignment I realized how happy I was to feel challenged and accomplished in that I was doing something about a gap in my knowledge-I was being an agent of my own learning.
  • Staying fresh and progressive isn’t easy. To be a true maverick you have to be out ahead of the crowd, and that means catching information the minute it hits the scene. Unfortunately, most site-based PD workshops take time to develop and deliver in school settings, and so by the time it gets in front of educators it’s not so new. If you want to blaze trails learning has to happen in real-time. MOOCs provide a wonderful opportunity to get the latest and greatest resources, and connect with other mavericks in our field right now.

You may be lucky enough to work in a school district that grants you professional development hours for participating in a MOOC. If not, I still encourage you to check one out as one of the many ways to connect with colleagues to further develop your craft. I hope to “see” you around in a future learning experience-Happy MOOCing!