“MOOCs and Beyond” is the title of issue number 33 of eLearning Papers, a quarterly online magazine published by the European Commission. Guest edited by Dr Yishay Mor, Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology at the UK’s Open University, he believes the publication is coming out in an “incredibly timely” moment, at a point when “we are getting over the initial excitement about MOOCs [Massive Open Online Courses] and people are trying to get a more critical view” about them.
In a podcast interview given to eLearningeuropa.info Dr Mor expresses his wish to contribute with this special issue to “open up the discussion about MOOCs” and have a conversation started about questions that are currently on the table, such as “are MOOCs really adequate to open up the education scene as they seem to promise?”.
This new eLearning Papers offering shows the wide array of formats MOOCs can take. However, Mor points out that there are still several barriers for participation: basic access (not everybody has a broadband connection) and cultural barriers (some people are not comfortable using means such as blogs or chats). MOOCs generally seem to assume “people are comfortable with a variety of technological tools and channels”, and this is not always the case.
Nevertheless there is no doubt that “MOOCs do open up the educational scene. They have the potential to democratize education further and open up the scene in a different way: anyone with something to say can run a MOOC.”
The “possibilities are there for democratization and increase access, but the barriers are still there and we have to think hard about this”, stresses Dr Mor, who recommends “MOOCs and Beyond” to educational practitioners interested or intrigued about this phenomena, university administrators, higher education institutions considering to step into this area, and policy makers, who should remain vigilant and not feel tempted to stop investing in universities because of these online courses. “Both, higher education institutions and MOOCs have their purpose. The two should synergise in various ways. And in order to understand the relationships between both it is good to read this special issue of eLearning Papers”, he recommends.
This paper reports the findings of a survey conducted among teachers attending a Master’s Degree on Special Education in which they were asked to analyse the acquisition of general ICT skills and specially oriented ICT solutions for students with learning disabilities. The collection, compilation and processing of the survey's data describes and explains the actual perceptions, skills and training needs of this professional group.
The results seem to confirm other studies that conclude that special education teachers support the use of ICT as a useful tool in the education of students with learning disabilities. However, our conclusions show that prior to a specific ICT for SEN training, teachers must acquire a set of basic ICT skills. The educational support provided by trained and specialized professionals assisted by ICT means and techniques constitutes an extraordinary aid for those students who need to see their disadvantage reduced or overcome.