State

November 7, 2013

More high school students in Florida are taking advantage of massive open online courses, or MOOCs

The concept of massive online courses is being tested in Miami-Dade, Broward and Pinellas counties, and will likely be expanding across the state.

It’s the latest trend in education and it’s coming soon to a school near you.

But what exactly is a MOOC?

On Thursday, Florida lawmakers got schooled on massive open online courses, or MOOCs.

The concept is being tested in Miami-Dade, Broward and Pinellas counties, and will likely be expanding across the state.

MOOCs are virtual classes that allow unlimited enrollment.

Students watch recorded lectures and move through the material at their own pace. They typically have little or no interaction with the instructor.

"It’s about open-source learning and innovative techniques," said state Rep. Manny Diaz, a Hialeah Republican, noting that MOOCs are best suited for independent and motivated students.

MOOCs are popular in colleges, and are slowly spreading to Florida’s K-12 system.

Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott signed a law allowing MOOCs in subject areas with end-of-course exams, including algebra, geometry and biology. The new law requires MOOC providers to use Florida-certified teachers and win approval from the state Department of Education.

Some schools are giving it a shot.

In Miami-Dade, G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School is piloting a MOOC in computer science. The University of Miami’s Global Academy, an online middle and high school, is offering MOOCs to help students prepare for the Advanced Placement calculus exam and the SAT subject test in biology.

High-school students in Pinellas County are enrolled in a remedial math MOOC offered by St. Petersburg College.

Similarly, Broward College is offering a new MOOC focusing on college-level reading, writing, and math. Half of enrollees are high school students from Broward County, state education officials said.

Broward College is working on additional game-based MOOCs that will be available next year.

House Education Committee Chairwoman Marlene O’Toole, R-Lady Lake, stressed that massive open online courses were not requirements, but options for Florida students looking to enhance their education.

"I’m excited by all of the opportunity," O’Toole said.

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