MOOCs make us to take a new look at the variety of roles that adult educators play. Teaching and learning in non-traditional ways in MOOCs require instructors adequately adapt themselves to the changes in different ways from they used to in traditional classroom. In MOOCs, instructors move to behind of stages, face various participants with different objectives and communicate with students through digital media as bridge.
Firstly, instructors are off stages. They do not play the role as leaders on stages who guide students chronologically to a certain destination, but students are self-directed. Different students have different paces. On the contrary to lead the class in traditional way, instructors follow their students and ready to answer any questions from any sections. Behind stages, unlike in traditional classes where instructors could adjust their teaching approaches or materials time to time according to students’ reactions, in MOOCs, although there is a chance to make some changes, instructors should display all materials of a subject prior to students coming and try to meet all potential needs of participants on precognitions. Then what instructors need to do will be to encourage students keep going and thinking by attractive contents and digital communication tools. Actually, from front to backstage does not mean less responsibility and challenge, only in different ways.
Secondly, instructors face the diversity of participants. MOOCs are free for everyone from all over the world. Except from different cultures, nations and religions, participants could be in any ages for any objective to take a course. According to recent survey, MOOC participants are “more females and older students were taking the classes. The survey also noted that nearly half of MOOC participants were not interested in pursuing certification and that 39% of the respondents were teachers.” (Dan Angelo, 2015) In this case, different from traditional instructors, the MOOCs’ instructors need to consider the diversity of learning approaches and outcomes to support their students. In addition, awareness of cultural differences becomes more important than ever before. Like journalists, instructors need to pay more attention to word choices, image designs and fair attitude. Therefore, instructors in MOOCs not only deliver knowledge, but also avoid potential problems in advance.
Thirdly, in MOOCs, instructors are like directors who communicate with audiences indirectly through medium as a bridge. Consequently, the language instructors used in MOOCs is different from in traditional classes. In face-to-face classes, instructors could interact with students, while in MOOCs, instructors understand student performances by a bunch of data; likewise, students receive instructions or feedback by texts, videos or other digital languages. For example, in order to measure how student engagement in a MOOC, researchers collected the data which showed how long students focused on a video before dropout (SchoolYourself, 2015) thus instructors could respond by adjusting objective or lesson planning. This is one of ways of interaction between instructions and students. Accordingly, as a MOOC instructor, it is necessary to master the new languages to communicate with students.
MOOCs are only seven years old since first being introduced in 2008, but it has been making a lot of thoughts about education including the roles that adult instructors play. Behind stages, instructors face to invisible students from all over the world and dialogue with them in digital languages. In summary, the instructors play quite different roles in MOOCs in many aspects from traditional classes.
- Dan Angelo. The CITE.“Researchers Study MOOC Trends,” accessed June10, 2015. http://thecite.blogspot.ca/2015/04/researchers-study-mooc-trends.html
- SchoolYourself Blog. “MOOCs are getting personal, but also more engaging!” accessed June 10, 2015. http://blog.schoolyourself.org/2015/04/moocs-are-getting-personal-but-also.html