Minister Jan O’Sullivan Launches MOOC as a 21st Century Learning Tool for Teachers
Ms Jan O’Sullivan T.D., Minister for Education and Skills yesterday launched a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called “21st Century Learning Design” which will be used by teachers across the globe to help support the objective of bringing more technology skills into the classroom. The course will be available through the Microsoft Educator Community, an online portal accessible to the educators across the globe. Dublin-based St. Patrick’s College, DCU and H2 Learning, an Irish eLearning services and consultancy organisation, have collaborated to develop the new course. 21st Century Learning Design, or 21CLD, is a key feature of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to teacher professional learning.
Regardless of the path that students choose to take, they need technology and a range of key skills to participate fully and to flourish in today’s world. These 21st century skills include the skills of communication, collaboration, problem-solving, innovation and construction of new knowledge. Information Communications Technology (ICT) plays a key role in our society and has the potential to transform teaching, learning and assessment. The 21CLD course is designed to enable teachers and others to transform the design of enriching learning activities for their students, through the use of ICT.
Speaking at the launch, Minister O’Sullivan said: “This is a timely resource for the teaching profession globally – and specifically here in Ireland. This course for teachers came about as the result of extensive collaboration involving a range of stakeholders and its production is an example of how people work in today’s 21st century global economy. This “Smart Partnership” brings together foreign direct investment through the involvement of Microsoft, the public sector in St Patrick’s College, DCU and the Irish SME sector in H2 Learning. All parties brought unique skills and perspectives to the project which has resulted in an invaluable resource which will now be available to the global teaching community. I am proud that Ireland’s academic community has been at the heart of this project and that through this MOOC we will be exporting knowledge and tools that can help equip young people across the globe with the skills they need to enhance their futures. Its launch is particularly timely in Ireland as it follows the publication of the Digital Strategy for Schools.”
Regina Murray, Microsoft’s Head of Education for Europe stated: “21CLD is a major part of our commitment to support teacher professional learning. The constantly changing world that we live in presents tremendous opportunity for young people but we in industry as well as the education community have a responsibility to ensure that they have the skills to help them exploit those opportunities fully. Teachers are central to this goal. We have worked with teachers for many years, supporting them as they seek to integrate digital technologies into the classroom and to help them constantly upskill. This new course adds to the materials, programmes and assets already available and we believe it will be a catalyst for change as it makes the tools and information even more accessible than ever before.”
Prof. Brian MacCraith, DCU President, commented: “We are delighted to have collaborated with H2 Learning and Microsoft on the development of this course. It will now be accessed by teachers across the world and is an example of how Irish education and eLearning companies are leading the way in innovations for teacher education and teacher professional learning. The development of 21st century transferable skills in students is of critical importance at all levels of education and we need to support teachers in achieving this objective. It is wonderful that an excellent support tool is now readily available online, by virtue of the 21CLD MOOC.”
H2 Learning, working in partnership with St. Patrick’s College and Microsoft has developed the course over the past year. Commenting the H2 learning CEO, John Hurley said: “The 21CLD MOOC supports a key objective of the Irish Government’s Digital Strategy for Schools - that of providing guidance and examples of good practice on the effective, critical and ethical use of ICT for teaching, learning and assessment by using real classroom practice. We find that the needs and objectives are common in many countries across the world and are delighted that the course that we have developed with the Digital Learning team at St. Patrick’s College, DCU will be used by educators here in Ireland and across the globe. This has been a great opportunity to collaborate with leaders in their field and we are delighted that the MOOC will be accessible to all via the Microsoft Educator Community platform.”
The 21CLD MOOC provides a rationale for the need to develop 21st century skills among our students. It presents the key 21st century skills of collaboration, knowledge construction, self-regulation, problem-solving and innovation, skilled communication, and the use of ICT for learning. It explores what learning looks like in the 21st century and how innovative teaching practices can support student learning to develop these skills. It also demonstrates 21CLD in action using video footage from teachers around the world. Dr. Deirdre Butler is the main presenter on the course.
21CLD includes examples of best practice from practicing teachers in Finland, Canada, South Africa, England, Demark, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore. Featured in the 21CLD MOOC are Kate Murray Principal of St. Augustine’s National School, Clontuskert, Co. Galway and Barry Corrigan who teaches in Millennium Integrated Primary School, Saintfield, Co. Down. These teachers used video to document their own approaches to 21st century learning design and highlight how the 21st century skills can be developed among pupils of all ages and across all the curriculum areas.
The 21CLD course will allow Irish teachers, and teachers around the globe, to embed ICT more effectively into their classroom teaching by designing learning activities that develop 21st century skills. Many teachers struggle to use ICT effectively with their learners and this course is designed to help them address this challenge. By engaging with the online course content and by interacting with other teachers, teachers will have a chance to enhance their professional practice. The course is designed to be a living resource where teachers and others engage with the resource and with their peers from around the globe. It is envisaged that the participants will actively contribute to the course by providing a rich array of digital artefacts that can help all teachers to enhance their professional practice.