My take on MOOCs

MOOC. It’s such a funny word. I mentioned my interest in taking a MOOC to an IT friend over the weekend and he had NO idea what I meant. Massive Open Online Courses are one of the fastest growing trends on the internet these days. Universities, very well-known ones, are jumping on this bandwagon to offer free, not for credit programs with real professors. I attempted to take a programming course through University of Toronto (eh?) in the fall, but I just got way to busy at work to follow through. Herein lies problem one with a MOOC. If the course is not for credit and you are essentially auditing it, then you had better be crazy motivated to complete it. One of the pros of a MOOC for the learner is the certificate of completion. You can add it to your resume and help become more marketable. I am enrolled in a second MOOC this January on Data Analysis. This one is closer to my heart, so I hope I’m motivated to finish it. All in all, I love the idea of a MOOC from a student’s perspective. I am a person who loves to continue my education, regardless of the fact that I have a Master’s + 60. I would love to get my doctorate, but that is for another post another time. The fact that I can learn from excellent professors from universities I would ordinarily not have access to is very exciting.

That was all from a learner’s standpoint. I still cannot wrap my head around what the university gets out of delivering a MOOC. Perhaps I am a cynic and a capitalist, but isn’t the university in the business to bring in revenue to keep their schools open? How does providing MOOCs serve the university? They get their names out there, but in the case of Stanford, their name is already out in the public. Universities become leaders of something new. Perhaps. How do MOOCs generate revenue? That is my take on MOOCs.


New student

As it seems to happen every year in October and November, here at my school in Philly, I received a new student today. He’s a 10th grader who has been in the US for 15 days from Dominican Republic. I always feel terrible for these kids who have to catch up on so much language and curriculum. Secretly, for me though, I love it. I love the challenge of teaching these students. I love watching them on their first day be silent and knowing that in a year’s time, they will be coming to me and asking me all kinds of questions. I love knowing I have such an important job. Sometimes I wish I weren’t teaching anymore and want to do the admin stuff more, but on days like today, when I have a newcomer who so desperately needs me, I love teaching!

Long time, no write

I am so embarrassed that almost a year has gone by and I have not written a single blog post! Ugh, I am terrible blogger. Oh well, get over it, Kim. You’re the only one reading this anyway. I think the reason I stopped writing was I had this amazing post I had created about which iPad cart to purchase. I had compared all the carts pros and cons, included pictures, prices, and websites to purchase. Sounds great, right? Wrong. It never uploaded properly and went into cyberspace, never to be seen from again. (Cue waa, waa, was music). I was so frustrated by that experience that I stopped writing new blogs. But, I’m back and better than ever.

Today, I’m going to describe some fun ways I’ve been teaching my beginner HS ESL class. We’re working on the past tense, including past simple, past and present perfect, passive and active voice. I have a SMART Board, so I found a great Passive Voice Review Connect 4game to play with the ELLs. This took 3 days to finish and they loved it. I find my ELLs are always super competitive with each other; I’m not sure why. Next we did a Zombie Passive Active Voice worksheet. If I were to create the worksheet again, and I just may, I would make up a zombie story and then have them change the active voice to passive voice to have the zombies doing all the action. This idea came from a viral tweet by Rebecca Johnson‏ @johnsonr

I finally learned how to teach my guys to ID the passive voice. If you can insert “by zombies” after the verb, you have passive voice.

The other fun thing I’ve started in class is using lyrics for warm-ups. This all started when out of the blue, my students started singing “Call Me Maybe.”  I looked on the internet and lo and behold, I found a lyric activity for simple past. I’m now going to do a lyric every day for warm-ups for awhile. Today will be “Dogs Days are Over” by Florence and the Machine. I created my own for “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees. Neon Trees Everybody Talk lyric warmup I like that I’m hitting the listening and reading domains with high engagement from my students.