Online Professional Development can be as advantageous as face-to-face. We can ascertain whether it’s effective or not by having a look at the popular Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) learning platform called FutureLearn and its practices. I think providing online access and self-pacing with the selection of the right course and program offered by top universities and specialists is aimed to counteract the loss of time. Even though some people can’t conceive how such platforms can replace and falter face to face CPD, with three main reasons this can seem feasible especially for the postmillennial generations. Attending a FutureLearn MOOC can foster Active Learning, Peer Learning, and getting instant feedback in one’s learning environment.
Taking psychological and environmental factors into account, a learner may not fully engage into each face-to-face lesson. With interleaved sequences of 5/6 min videos or an article, FutureLearn Lessons enable learners to interact with the real material and subsequently ask them the necessary question. Learners given the chance to take notes and write a reflection with ever accessible lessons, feel more comfortable and learn better.
FutureLearn MOOCs, also promote the awareness of Peer Learning. Learners, having attended with the same aim, willingly recommend an amazing amount of resources and share their experiences throughout the course/program. This year, Cambridge University, with the course “Teaching English Online” provided a Peer Assessment opportunity. The specialists set certain tasks. The following step gave each teacher in the course the chance to utilize and assess one another’s task and make a comment. Discussion Forums and Facebook-like interactions keep learners socially interacted, motivated, enthusiastic and eager to teach and learn from each other.
Today, assessing even a short piece of writing takes a lot of time for a teacher. A learner sometimes forgets about it and starts preparing for another one, without having been given the feedback on the first one yet. However, in an online learning e-space offered by FutureLearn, our comments and reflections are scrutinized carefully by the specialists and consultants. This give us the feeling that we are all continuously and assiduously monitored. The more instant feedback we receive, the more prolific course participants we become.
All in all, FutureLearn adopts a revolutionized attitude towards Online CPD. It also licenses its courses which relates to the business aspect of our community. Online specialists and e-learning consultants being ever engaged and ready to give instant feedback will accommodate learners with learning. I reiterate my view that this next-generation online platform will soon take precedence over face to face CPD.
There are also a number of MOOCs for teachers and learners run by the British Council on FutureLearn. See all the online courses here