The MOOC revolution (Massive Open Online Courses), rapidly changes the world of learning. Leading universities worldwide offer the best courses taught by the best lecturers online and free of charge. Anyone can learn anything, and everywhere. There is no longer need for content experts who possess information to which they have exclusive access. Information is available and accessible and the people who teach it online can be the top researchers in their field or even the owners of the information’s IP rights. Nevertheless, as it turns out, sometimes it is not so simple to cope with advanced level courses that are taught in a foreign language, especially on one’s own. Therefore, a very small percentage (4%-20%) of the millions who sign-up to these courses, successfully complete and meet the courses’ requirements.
A significant breakthrough has been achieved in Israel in this field with the implementation of the How2MOOC Model. Thanks to this model, the percentage of students who successfully complete MOOC courses has reached 90%.
How2MOOC Model is comprised of two key components:
• MOOC – the online course and the notion that almost anything can be learned, anywhere in the world, free of charge.
• The Education Team Model – which follows two rules:
1. Every student is also a teacher. As a team players, each student has a strength area that enables him/her to teach and support other team members, while at the same time, he/she benefits from the strength areas of other team members.
2. The Education Team has a shared goal which transforms the team members from opponents to partners – Education Team members are accountable to one another and to the common goal, very much like in a sport team. The shared goal may be a shared grade (grades’ average); boosting the class’ morale; and others.
The teacher in a class that uses the Education Team model assumes the role of a coach (MOOCster). His/her responsibility is to help team members to identify their areas of strength; to nurture collaborations; and to facilitate the group’s process of finding and defining a shared goal.
In addition to these two key components, which constitute the core of the model, we list below additional important components. However, it is important to note that after five years of field work and working with thousands of students and teachers who participated in How2MOOC groups, we have come to the conclusion that the following additional methods may be selected by the teacher, according to his/her preferences, the nature of the group, the type of studied material, as well as other considerations.
Following is a list of methods that can be implemented with the Education Team Model for improving and enhancing the MOOC learning experience:
• The Flipped Classroom – Knowledge is acquired online at home, and classroom time is dedicated to practice and in-depth learning in an Education Team setting.
• Utilizing social media tools – Facebook, WhatsApp and other virtual tools are used as means for on-going contact with the teacher and with other students. These tools can be used to build a beneficial, empowering and supporting learning network.
• Blended Learning – That is a very broad term that includes a wide range of methods but in general it means learning in a shared physical space, hand in hand with online learning in a virtual space – group discourse, virtual community discussions, creation, visual expression of contents, sharing of outcomes online, and more.
• Learning Community – groups of students and teachers nationwide (also from out of the country) that connect via social networks, webinars, and a variety of internet-based sharing tools. The process of inquiring, learning, and creating is uploaded to shared files by which the walls of the small local group are torn down.
• Project Based Learning – When learning gaming, one makes video games; When learning design, all the designs are implemented and never stay on the paper only; When learning Astro-biology, one prepares a recommendation list to the UN, and so forth. The students of the 21st century are eager to experience the real world early on in young age and to create and build the products of their learning.
In the abovementioned pilot (2013-2014), MOOC Courses were studied in 15 Israeli classrooms (grades 8–12) nationwide – Introduction to Astronomy by the Australian Open University and Control Mobile Robots by the Georgia Institute of Technology. Students and teachers studied together according to the principles of How2MOOC model, both online and offline, practicing Facebook & WhatsApp study groups on the one hand and actual learning groups on the other hand. In addition, a weekly results graph was constructed, according to which the group’s learning strategies have been amended and adjusted. The results were unprecedented: 83% of the high school students who studied in a language different than their mother tongue, successfully completed a university level course. The teachers, some of whom were not familiar with the learned material, also went through an extraordinary process of adopting a completely new role. The knowledge itself was provided online and therefore, the teachers’ role did not include any transfer of knowledge. Instead, their role included building an Education Team which members are committed to the group’s goal and to each other, balancing between these two needs, and supporting the learning process while learning the study material themselves.
Following its success, How2MOOC, Education Cities MOOC model is picking up speed. The number of courses increased and there is a diversity of offered study topics.
In the 2014-2015 school year, the collaboration with the Israeli Ministry of Education was expanded and 85% of students successfully completed the courses. The teachers reported that the method of work (collaboration, mutual help, etc.) has been implemented in the classrooms in conventional classes too.
Following these outcomes, the model’s potential has been identified by the Israeli Minister of Education who decided to expand it to 50 classrooms in the 2015-2016 school year, with a goal of offering an academic level MOOC course in every school.
As a result of these activities, WIRED magazine selected the How2MOOC model as one of the leading trends in 2015.
Towards the end of the 2016-2017 school year Education Cities has initiated nationwide MOOCATHON events, H2M Marathon.
The students and teachers in every school that signed up for a trial have pre-registered, with our support, to a short and fascinating MOOC course (out of a list that we have distributed). The event itself was either one-day or two-day long, and during which:
The teachers – received MOOCsters training, MOOC group facilitators according to the Education Team Model – how to build an Education Team, how to assign roles, how to support learning processes, how to build a network, and more.
The students – were “flipped” and moved between two spaces in school:
The Flipped Classroom Space – where they studied in small groups the course’s topics on computers.
The Education Team Space – where the learned material was processed in small groups built according to members’ areas of strength. Those who understood the material helped the struggling ones, and everyone was committed to a goal that has been set in advance (successful completion of the course).
In Emeq Hamaayanot, in Be’er Sheva, in Modi’in, and in numerous other places, 200 classrooms have experienced a full day of different kind of learning. Hand in hand with deciphering an academic course, remarkable breakthroughs transpired. Children taught teachers, groups that ran into difficulties contacted other schools in Israel that studied the same course. Learning took place in an environment of high energy, which was, at times, maintained by dancing and singing, and all this while completing all tasks and meeting the various challenges of the course.