Silicon Schools Fund CEO Brian Greenberg believes that blended learning is about “reconceiving the role of the student, the teachers, and how you define schools.” But such cosmic shifts require guidance, coaching, and encouragement. With edtech coaches and coordinators still a relatively new field, teachers often have few direct resources on how to get started.
The emergence of a new blended learning MOOC, compliments of Coursera’s new focus on teacher professional development, could provide such guidance--for free.
To deliver the course, blended learning connoisseurs Greenberg and Michael Horn (Co-founder, Clayton Christensen Institute) will join forces with teacher training expert Rob Schwartz of the New Teacher Center.
Aimed at educators and parents with access to some form of a classroom, the six-week course will focus on implementing blended learning models, looking at factors like physical space, budget and how to choose the right software. "Students" will focus on case studies at KIPP Los Angeles, Summit Public Schools and Navigator Schools in Gilroy,CA, described by Greenberg “the best school you never heard of.” These studies will serve as a guide through the questions, obstacles, and decisions that come up when implementing various versions of blended learning models. By the end of the course, educators and parents will be expected to launch blended learning pilots in their own schools, however big or small.
For Greenberg, asking students to pilot an aspect of blended learning is about “shrinking the risk” and encouraging teachers to “get in there and write their own playbook.” Greenberg acknowledges the best way to try out blended learning is to let educators experiment and find out what works best. He hopes that this MOOC can serve as a platform for feedback and lessons learned, and "support the spread of blended learning across the sector more broadly."
Typical Coursera enrollment ranges between 30,000 to 60,000 students, with an average of 10% completing the course. The company’s first attempt at teacher professional development courses this summer saw enrollment numbers between 10,000-14,000. (Courses are ongoing so completion percentages have yet to be calculated.)
The “Blended Learning: Personalizing Education for Students” course begins October 15th. If enrollment remains consistent with the previous teacher PD courses, and if it can deliver as promised, this new blended learning course has the potential to coach thousands of teachers through experiments in blended learning.
While it may not take the place of consultants or a school's own edtech coach, it can kickstart thousands of small changes to classrooms and new ways that blended learning could impact the role of students, teachers, and the way we see schools.