Having gained ground at the college level for years now, MOOCs are now making forays into primary and secondary education. A number of of professors at Davidson College are teaming up with MIT’s edX to create an online course to help high school students prepare for Advanced Placement tests. The courses will be available to anyone who wants them, either individuals who want to supplement their classroom instruction, or teachers who will use them as a teaching tool. The NYT explains the thinking behind the program:
“We joined edX in May, specifically because many of our faculty wanted to work on this Advanced Placement project,” said Carol Quillen, the president of Davidson. “They see kids come into their introductory classes, year after year after year, and get stuck on certain concepts, like the Phillips curve in macroeconomics, and they wanted to create some interactive online units that teachers could use to help teach the hardest ideas.”The Davidson faculty involved in the project had already worked with the College Board, grading or writing Advanced Placement exams or teaching summer workshops for A.P. high school teachers. Now, using the College Board’s data from the Advanced Placement exams in the three subjects, and working with teachers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, they are preparing modules on the trickiest concepts in each subject, including a video lesson and assignments.
This project is worth watching closely: if successful, it would be a big step forward for a technology that has yet to make much of an impact at the secondary level. If that happens, many of the MOOC controversies that are currently heating up on college campuses could make their way to high schools across the country.