New EdTechX MOOC Series Offered at MIT

Eric Klopfer, a professor at MIT, was on sabbatical and decided that instead of going the typical academic route of writing a book, he would create a MOOC. “I thought of it as another form of valuable academic contribution with more practical consequences than an academic book often has,” said Klopfer.

An edtech MOOC

Klopfer and his team created a MOOC on education technology. The series, named the EdTechX series, began on October 8 and is  still accepting registrations. The first of the series of four is the Design and Development of Education Technology, a six-week program with a Kickstarter-styled pitch for an edtech tool as the final project.

The rest of the series includes the following topics:

  • Introduction to Game Design, starting October 22nd
  • Computer Games and Simulations for Investigation and Education
  • Implementation and Evaluation of Education Technology

The series was designed to be taken consecutively, but Klopfer said there are different ways to pair the courses within the series. The series was created so that anyone could begin without any prerequisites, but further down the series some base knowledge will be helpful.

Creating a demand-driven MOOC

Klopfer said he decided to create an education technology MOOC because he saw an interest from two sides, the educators and the people coming in from the technology sector. “We saw both these sides and thought, if we can make a course that brings these audiences together, helps provide some fundamentals in education technology development and education theory and practice, it will really help both these sides be more effective in affecting change in edtech.”

The social part of the MOOC is something Klopfer stresses. The MOOCs are meant to be active, not where watching videos and taking multiple choice quizzes are the main components. Engaging with others and creating projects is something participants should expect with this MOOC. “We believe firmly that learning is a social process and in particular learning about education technology, the social sciences, needs to be done in a much more social way that engages a community of learners.

The MOOC also has its own set of open source tools to help create community and groups. “At this point I think people have created over 80 groups,” he said. Some of the groups are centered around interests, projects, or even languages. They will evolve over time and may split apart or combine to accommodate the members.

Klopfer and his team are using this opportunity to study how to most effectively use MOOCs and what can be done to better relay information. “It’s a different medium to think about expressing ideas and I think we should keep pushing that medium,” said Klopfer. “It’s video, audio, it’s written text, it’s activities, it’s software. There are so many ways of expressing ideas that it opens up a lot of possibilities.”


Michelle Harven

Michelle Harven

Michelle is a current graduate student at Emerson College and an intern at Boston's public radio station. She enjoys exploring the world of educational technology and writing about the ever-changing sector and its potential.