From the desk of Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, October 14, 2011

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing professional development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of professional development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Have you joined the MOOC generation?

Generation Y and the youngest of our healthcare colleagues were raised on technology that many of us in Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Veterans never dreamed would someday exist. As technology continues to advance at super-speeds, we need to prepare to meet the education needs of learners who multi-task at a lightning pace, prefer texting to talking, access the latest news and trends electronically rather than in print media, and, perhaps most important to those of us in professional development, are accustomed to obtaining education via technology whenever and wherever they want.

An innovative kind of continuing education format that has recently emerged is designed to meet the needs of learners who are inundated with information 24/7. It is a MOOC: massive open online course. A MOOC is a course with facilitators, materials, and participants in which people who are interested in a particular topic engage. Registrants learn together using blogs, tweets, logs, and Internet resources. There are no specific requirements or assignments. Instead learners are asked to interact with each other based on materials acquired. Learners are encouraged to learn from each other, acquire different points of view, and use materials acquired to stimulate interaction. MOOCs are generally free of charge unless being taken for academic credit and the course itself is dependent upon having non-credit participants attend.

Some good information on MOOCs can be accessed on YouTube videos presented by Dave Cormier and associates at the University of Prince Edward Island. Video topics include explaining what a MOOC is, how to successfully participate in a MOOC, and how to focus your efforts when interacting as part of a MOOC.

MOOC allows interaction among participants from all over the world using some of the formatting of a social media network, which makes it attractive to members of the Net generation.

Here are two good resources to help you learn more about MOOCs.

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