One of the interesting learning experiences I encountered when reading articles presented by Barbour (2013) and Allen & Seaman (2014) is the potential of massive open online courses (MOOCs) within the K-12 system. MOOCs as mentioned by Verena Roberts in Barbour (2013) is a cost-effective learning solution to students seeking to educate themselves. These courses are offered for free to people outside of the institution and “there is typically no credit given for completion of [MOOCs]” (Allen & Seaman, 2014).
MOOCs in Blended learning environment provide students with learning opportunities where students interact with each other using various digital tools. My teaching experience with Investment Strategies program (ISP), which involves in-class discussions and online group activities and stock market simulation is a form of MOOC using Blended learning. Just like MOOC where cost is eliminated, ISP program provides students with skills and knowledge in investments at no cost and is considered to be one of the first initiatives in educating students who would be interested in becoming future investors. However, ISP is offered locally where Grade 10 students from different schools around Calgary participate online. Thus, the online student participation is not at an international level.
Working professionals seeking to gain new skills at work or enhance their skills to a different level can also benefit from MOOCs. Currently, modified forms of MOOCs exist where high-tech corporations like Microsoft and SAP are offering free online courses on any of their software products. However, these MOOCs are limited to employees working for organizations that subscribe products offered by these high-tech companies. Hence, non-subscribers who are interested in gaining new skills in using these products have to pay substantial amount of money for their professional development. In my opinion, basic training for individuals who are interested in learning new skills should be offered using MOOCs.
Moreover, from my experience and after talking to people within my specialization, there is a national shortage of professionals specialized in Microsoft Dynamics AX. Can basic online training in Dynamics AX via MOOCs resolve this shortage? I strongly think it can. MOOCs can provide starting point for someone considering to get into a demanding career in Dynamics AX. I also think program developers and organizations interested in investing in MOOCs would benefit from research carried out to determine the effect of MOOCs in increasing the number of professionals specialized in Dynamics AX.
Allen, I. and Seaman, J. (2014) Grade Change: Tracking Online Learning in the United States. Wellesley MA: Babson College/Sloan Foundation
Barbour, M.K. (2013). State of the nation study: K-12 Online Learning in Canada. Victoria, BC: Open School BC