MOOCs for High School Students

MOOCs have been expanding in many directions lately (master’s degrees, continuing education and professional development, zombies, to name a few) as MOOC providers look to better define their target audiences and develop their business models. One of the most recent moves has been into the K-12 market. In many ways, this is an ideal market for these courses. As Michelle Locke points out at, MOOCs often incorporate many elements of online gaming and social media, which make them well-suited for younger audiences. With tightening school budgets and the increased demands of the Common Core Standards, teachers need more resources that will both provide quality instruction and free up class time. MOOCs are in an excellent position to fill this need.

Here are some MOOCs currently aimed at high school audiences:

AP Computer Science

Digital education company Amplify has launched a new two-semester AP computer science MOOC for the 2013-2014 school year. High schools with students enrolled in the course are eligible to join the organization’s MOOC Local program, which provides resources for educators including professional development and supplementary materials. This is a great option for the many schools that don’t have the budget to provide AP courses in-house.

Computing for Schools

Supported by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Cambridge University Press and British exam board OCR have recently released an online computing MOOC for 14 to 16 year olds. The course is self-paced with no start or end dates, and it can be taken independently or used in a classroom setting.

Exploring Engineering

Brown University offers online pre-college courses in medicine, engineering, leadership and entrepreneurship, and writing and media. Most of these courses come with a pretty hefty price tag, but “Exploring Engineering,” which introduces students to the various fields and concepts of engineering, is now being offered as a MOOC.

SAT Biology

Last fall, University of Miami Global Academy launched a Skype-based MOOC to help students prepare for the SAT test in biology.

Reynoldsburg City Schools

Through a partnership with Udacity, certain students in Ohio’s Reynoldsburg City Schools district have the opportunity to take MOOCs. Students can currently choose among a variety of computer science and math courses, including “Intro to Computer Science,” “Web Development,” and “Game Development.”

Chicago Summer of Learning

Over the summer, edX and the city of Chicago partnered to offer “A Taste of Python Programming” for high school students in Chicago and across the country. The course was not offered for credit, but students were able to earn digital badges for their efforts.

MOOCs have vast potential in the high school market, for AP courses, college prep, introductions to various fields, and more. They can enhance the options available to students while at the same time helping schools and districts save money. As the technology improves and more educators embrace this new model, we expect to see many more opportunities for MOOCs in the K-12 market.

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