VIA PRESS RELEASE
Oregon State University will launch its first massive open online course (MOOC) this fall, partnering with Stanford University and the Oregon Department of Education to deliver a free, professional learning opportunity to potentially thousands of K-12 educators in the state and around the world.
The eight-week course, Supporting English Language Learners under New Standards, is funded by the Oregon Department of Education and begins Oct. 1. Its partners say it will further position OSU and the state of Oregon as national leaders in how English language learners (ELLs) are served.
"This is a perfect opportunity for Oregon State to enter the MOOC sphere because we're doing it in collaboration with people who have successfully done it before," said Karen Thompson, one of the course's three instructors and an assistant professor in OSU's College of Education.
"This class cuts across grade levels and content areas, and it will help build teachers' understanding of their students' language abilities through collaborative work with other teachers."
Oregon State provost and executive vice president Sabah Randhawa says OSU enters the MOOC arena with the university's educational mission in clear focus, namely a commitment to help Oregon create a more educated citizenry and provide students with broader, more affordable access to course options.
"This will help us learn first-hand about this type of a teaching platform and identify how and where MOOCs fit in our learning ecosystem," said Randhawa, making note of OSU's reputation as a leader in online education. "It is important to be open to new possibilities and to be flexible and adaptable to new learning paradigms, including the MOOC learning format."
The course developers and instructors expect widespread participation. It is open to teachers outside of Oregon and is especially relevant to educators in the 11-state ELPA 21 consortium that is developing an assessment system based on new English Language Proficiency Standards.
Course participants will work in teams to gather and analyze language samples from their students, exploring how ELLs construct claims supported by evidence. Thompson says the information educators gather one day in the MOOC can be directly applied in their K-12 classrooms the following day.
A course of this scope became a priority last October when Oregon's State Board of Education adopted the new, more rigorous proficiency standards. With more than half of the state's ELLs scattered throughout Oregon in remote school districts, reaching all pertinent educators in a timely fashion became a challenge that the MOOC can tackle.
"We sought to develop a tool that could reach a multitude of teachers through a platform that encourages action research and productive collaboration," said Tim Blackburn, an education specialist with the Oregon Department of Education. "The MOOC can overcome time and distance by bringing high-quality, professional learning irrespective of location, size and situation."
Joining Thompson as course instructors are Kenji Hakuta and Sara Rutherford-Quach of Stanford's Graduate School of Education and the university's Understanding Language initiative. Stanford helped pioneer the MOOC movement in 2011 and sees OSU as a partner that can deliver education on a mass scale to those who need it.
"We want MOOCs to enable the Stanfords and Oregon States of the world to work together to provide professionally meaningful learning to the community of teachers within the state context," Hakuta said. "Teaching English language learners well is a responsibility of everyone in the system, and the course will provide tools to operationalize and communicate this message. It was a no-brainer to collaborate with OSU."
Oregon State Ecampus is also a partner in the MOOC and has provided multimedia and support services for the course, which opens for registration later this summer. More information is available on the Ecampus website.
"Delivering a course in this open format goes hand in hand with Oregon State's mission to provide access to high-quality education to learners around the state, country and world," said Ecampus executive director Lisa L. Templeton. "Ecampus is excited to partner with the College of Education, Stanford and ODE to deliver this with no cost involved for learners."