Oregon State University this fall will launch its first massive, open online course, or MOOC, 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. It will further position OSU and the state of Oregon as national leaders in how English language learners are served.
As many institutions have rushed to join this educational phenomenon in recent years, OSU administrators said they judged this to be the right time and opportunity for OSU to offer its inaugural MOOC, which are courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. OSU is already a national leader in more traditional online education.
"This will help us learn first-hand about this type of teaching platform, and identify how and where MOOCs fit in our learning ecosystem," said Provost and Executive Vice President Sabah Randhawa. "It's important to be open to new possibilities, and flexible and adaptable to new learning paradigms, including the MOOC learning format."
Randhawa said OSU enters the MOOC arena with the university's educational mission in clear focus - a commitment to help Oregon create a more educated citizenry and to provide students with broader, more affordable access to course options.
The developers and instructors of OSU's first massive course expect widespread participation. It is open to teachers outside of Oregon and is especially relevant to educators in the 11-state ELPA21 consortium that is developing an assessment system based on new English Language Proficiency Standards.
"This is a perfect opportunity for OSU 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.
"People have started to consider OSU a statewide leader in ELL education, and this MOOC represents an exciting opportunity for OSU to impact teaching and learning for ELLs everywhere."
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.
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.
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 at ecampus.oregonstate.edu/ell.
"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."
In recent years OSU Ecampus has gained national recognition as one of the best online extended education programs in the nation, from U.S. News and World Report, SuperScholar and other ranking agencies. The ranking criteria are based on such factors as faculty credentials, student engagement, degree diversity, academic quality and other issues.