Trigger Warnings, English Grammar and Style, Ed Tech and K-12 Teachers

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

warns us that “Students no longer receive their education directly from a person standing in the front of a lectern and the learning experience may now take place virtually or across augmented realities…. Faculty should take proactive steps to address potentially triggering material that they set students to watch or read online, prior to a meltdown occurring.”1 She provides insights into how to integrate trigger warnings into assignments and lectures, e.g., via eblasts and in-line messages.

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If you’re a teacher concerned about your students’ writing or a student searching for a way to upgrade your basic writing skills, here’s a MOOC that might address your needs. English Grammar and Style is an “eight-week course… starting on July 26 [on] how to apply grammar and syntax to ‘produce coherent, economical, and compelling writing.'”2 It’s being offered by the University of Queensland via edX. Last year, it attracted 50,000 students. Thus far, it has attracted 10,000. MOOCs are free, and students can take them in conjunction with their regular classes. They can log in at a time and from a place that’s convenient for them.

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, reporting from ISTE 2015, shared results from a study “released… by the Education Technology Industry Network of the Software & Information Industry Association.” Molnar says, “In general, the study found that the most critical unmet needs for K-12 educators are: Continuous access to adequate bandwidth[;] Access to the level of technology resources common to other professionals[;] Training in technology that is available to other professionals.”3 The dirty little secret in K-12 schooling is that precious little of our education technology dollars trickle down to teachers, who are asked to do more with less every year as the gap between technology and the profession widens. The question everyone ought to be asking is, Where are the tech dollars going?

1As Learning Moves Online, Trigger Warnings Must Too,” The Conversation, 3 July 2015.
2Tim Dodd, “MOOC Watch: Users Flock to Online Grammar Course from the University of Queensland,” AFR, 3 July 2015.
3Educators Report on Uses, Wish List for Student Data in K-12,” Education Week, 1 July 2015.

3 Responses

  1. Based on what I see every day, there should be many more than 50,000 students in this MOOC!

    • You’re right, Harry. The vast majority of teachers have yet to grasp the potential of MOOCs as a resource for course design. They continue to rely on textbooks and lectures while MOOCs such as this are freely available and accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the world. They really ought to begin thinking of MOOCs as a series of ongoing workshops that they can recommend or even require for students who need to brush up on basics in nearly any subject or field. Once students discover the value of MOOCs, they’ll begin to explore them on their own not only for basics but for enrichment as well. School and college administrators, too, should begin thinking of MOOCs as replacements for some of the courses that they now offer. This could relieve some of the burden on limited budgets. Students could receive credit for successfully completing MOOCs, and the best part is they can log in from home or dorms at times that are convenient for them and they can study at their own pace. I’d like to see basic courses such as this modularized into smaller units, from a day to a week in length, focusing on specific skills or skill sets. This way teachers could refer students to only those modules that they need.

      • My point is that too many people just cannot write.

        A further thought: what about mini-MOOCs for learning something less than a full semester’s worth of material? I might love to learn something but not like having to push through an entire course to do so. The online medium has great potential here.

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