Full title: Effective use of MOOCs in English and Hindi for teacher training in India: learner experiences and lessons learned from the TESS-India project
MOOCs represent a digital tool to deliver free online courses to groups of learners living in different regions, countries, even continents. However, despite better understandings about ‘how’ to deliver a good MOOC, the question of ‘why’ and ‘when’ to use a MOOC remains under-developed. In this paper we argue that, as the concept of the MOOC matures, we must extend definitions of its role and purpose and think more holistically about the longer term impacts it seeks to deliver. Used well, like any learning tool, it has the power to truly transform. Used poorly, the opportunity may be squandered.
The paper will present findings from two MOOCs run in 2016 and 2017. Our ambition has been to use the affordances of the MOOC digital platform to extend the reach and impact of a large scale open programme (TESS-India) focused on improving teacher professional development in seven states in India: Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal (www.tess-india.edu.in).
The MOOC was used to support capacity building of teacher educators and trainee teachers and to contribute to the programme goal of pedagogic transformation in learning and teaching in elementary and lower secondary schools. It was developed and run by programme partners based across seven states in India and at the Open University, UK. All learning content, communication, and online forum discussion was in English for the first run of the MOOC and in Hindi for the second run. Over 30,000 learners registered and the course enjoyed a completion rate of 51% - over six times better than the average completion rate of MOOCs run at a distance by European and American universities.
The paper presented will draw on multiple sources of participant data, including fieldwork interviews, analytics, and surveys to identify and examine features which stimulated interest in the MOOC and supported the success in challenging and varied contexts – for many participants this was their first experience of online learning and a large number were based in rural areas without reliable internet access or power. Our analysis identifies features which contributed to successful participation: use of authentic activities in the learning design and assessment; building a network of local experts, teacher training champions and facilitators; appropriate use of technology, and a three-way blended support model combining formal and informal learning and physical and virtual spaces.