MOOCS FOR TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: INVESTIGATING VIEWS AND PERCEPTIONS OF THE PARTICIPANTS
The emergent Web technologies, like e-learning platforms, social media and Web 2.0 applications, open educational resources etc., have received a growing interest across higher education institutions, schools and educational policy authorities. Among new forms of e-learning, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are gaining an intense educational and pedagogical interest during the last years; they constitute an alternative to the conventional e-learning courses and programs which offers enhanced opportunities to large numbers of learners to participate in educational programs.
Despite that MOOCs continue to proliferate globally, educational research is, rather, in the beginning to address major themes to be investigated. A wide range of pedagogical and learning design issues are still open for investigation. The aim of this study was to provide a different point of view to the design and implementation of MOOCs by gathering critical information from participants who are experienced educators themselves; therefore we expected that they have developed a coherent base of pedagogical knowledge that could help to reveal valuable information about MOOC pedagogy. Two main research questions were addressed:
α) What were teachers’ perceptions on MOOC design and implementation issues?
b) How do participants perceived the impact of a MOOC to their professional development?
In response to the issues above, the presentation reports upon the design framework and the implementation of a MOOC aiming at teachers’ acquiring the knowledge and skills to integrate Web-based tools in classroom practice, i.e. to promote students’ engagement, creativity and learning. The course lasted for 7 weeks and was carried out at the Department of Social and Educational Policy, University of Peloponnese, in Greece. A total of 399 primary education teachers were enrolled on a voluntary basis, coming from five prefectures around the country; 327 teachers completed the course successfully.
The design of this MOOC followed a hybrid approach by establishing an authentic learning context determined by a) a predetermined structure/outline of the topics under study and obligatory assignments to be completed individually (5 artefacts using different web-based tools and active participation/contribution to the main discussion forums), and b) teachers’ encouragement to farther shape their engagement, peer interaction and patterns of collaboration in order to co-create new artefacts/learning scenarios applicable in their classroom (5 collaborative activities on voluntary basis).
After implementation, an empirical post-course investigation was established using an on-line anonymous questionnaire. The scale has 34 questions divided into 4 subscales. The analysis of the responses received from 326 participants, revealed that the teachers were satisfied of the course workflow, the assignments and the Web tools used, the support and peer interaction they received. The teachers considered this MOOC as a positive learning and professional development experience, which enhanced their pedagogical and technological knowledge to integrate Web-based tools in educational practice. In conclusion, the results of this study provide promising evidence that MOOCs can effectively support teacher professional development.