In the famed five phase Hype Cycle, MOOCs are currently in the Trough of Disillusionment (Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver). A University of Pennsylvania study of 1 million MOOC users who participated in 16 of the school’s Coursera classes, for example, found that only about half of the registrants viewed even a single online lecture and that the average completion rate was just 4 percent.
There’s an interesting piece in the Atlantic that points out that one of the bright spots is that teachers are enrolling and completing courses in much larger numbers. One study found that nearly 40% of all MOOC students are actually teachers. This can, perhaps, be the silver lining on MOOCS.
The current state of Teacher Professional Development is a costly and arguably futile endeavor. Most teachers feel that it is a waste of money and time. It appears, though, that actually seeing teaching modelled, experiencing the class the way students do, is something that teachers appreciate and believe will make them better teachers.
So, while MOOCs might not be massive, might not be courses, they do serve a vital function and may revolutionize teacher training in a way that is more accessible, more affordable and, most importantly, more effective.