In the spring of 2014, a team from the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation launched to first rendition of a Massive Open Online Course for Educators (MOOC-Ed), titled Coaching Digital Learning | Cultivating a Culture of Change (CDL). The course transpired over 6 weeks, beginning on March 10, 2014. One of the development team’s priority goals in developing the MOOC-Ed was to connect and engage instructional coaches and teachers in learning experiences directly relevant to their role within their school and/or district.
To make content succinct and continuous, we implemented four Twitter Chats directly related to the content of the week in which they occurred. Through the experience, participants synchronously responded to a series of open-ended opinion questions, shared resources, and celebrated their learning through the hashtag: #CDL_MOOCEd.
The Twitter Chats were lead by the facilitator of the week, who organized and directed the discussion. MOOC-ed participants, alongside those outside the course, collaborated, connected, and engaged in the hour-long discussion across the world. Through these Chats, we modeled the potential of Twitter in developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) that supports continuous professional learning in which the individual can choose what to explore and when to engage.
73% of the MOOC-Ed participants indicated the Twitter Chats as Valuable or higher.
The following quotes are captured from the MOOC-Ed survey provided at the end of the course, in response to the question:
- What specific aspect(s) of this course have been most valuable to your professional learning?
- “Twitter chats were awesome. Also being able to add people to my PLN has been great. I have been able to glean even more information from them these past few weeks.”
- “I liked that it was the traditional here is [to] follow this chat, […] I was able to extend my network within 2 days.“
- “Connections with other educators and the power of Twitter”
- General responses
- “I found the twitter chat exhausting or exhilarating I am not sure which!! Definitely a learning experience. In fact it is the one I want to be able to ring into our schools in some way or another. Either as a coaching tool or for principal/teacher parent contact etc. in some way – still thinking….”
- “As a beginner I liked that I could get on Twitter and read about others and find information.”
- “I enjoyed the Twitter chats and missed them the last two weeks!”
With the high engagement levels, and positive feedback from participants, the CDL MOOC-Ed development team will continue to push participants to engage in Twitter Chats, as well as provide additional opportunities to connect during and following MOOC-Ed course. In doing so, we are adding an additional chat to run at the end of the course, as well as continued follow-up chats to provide past participants the opportunity to gain new ideas, ask questions, and continue to drive innovation in their school/district.
At this point in history, educators have instant access to curated and vetted resources at their fingertips through any web-enabled device. Twitter is fast becoming an engine for change in the educational field, allowing educators across the world to share ideas, opinions, and support. In fact, “out of the 1/2 billion tweets that post every day, 4.2 million are related to education, according to Brett Baker, an account executive at Twitter.com”(Stevens). By encouraging the MOOC-Ed participants to enter into the Twitter stream, we hope to drive their learning and engagement far beyond the time constraints of the MOOC in order to develop life-long connected educators continuing to push themselves and the educational field to support student learning and success.
Stevens, Katrina. “Twitter Exec Reports That Educators Dominate the Twitter-sphere.” Web log post. EdSurge. EdSurge Inc., 30 Apr. 2014. Web. 1 July 2014.