About a year ago, Coursera, a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) platform, announced that they would be offering free professional development courses for teachers; there would be a $50 fee for verified certifications. According to Andrew Ng, the co-founder of Coursera, offering online professional development opens up more choices for districts that may not have the funds to provide teacher training.
While there are plenty of MOOCs out there for teachers, we are featuring Coursera’s offerings because they are free and among the frontrunners of the MOOC game. It’s true that MOOCs aren’t for everyone, it is the age of “you can learn anything online” so it’s worth it to see what’s out there.
Surviving Your Rookie Year of Teaching
This course is for first-year teachers who are looking for some help in their rookie year. This MOOC breaks down into four sessions: (1) big picture, focusing on the variables that shape instruction to what goes into decisions about instruction, (2) classroom management, focusing on consistency and response to disruptions and classroom behavior, (3) ratio, or how to get student to participate and think at a high level every day, and (4) relationships, focusing on communications with parents.
E-Learning and Digital Cultures
This course focuses on our (human) relationship with technology. A relationship that Jeremy Knox, the instructor of this course, says is “often viewed with optimism and pessimism in equal measure.” Knox aims to explore how digital cultures intersect with online learning cultures. As the title suggests, this MOOC is about how to view e-learning through digital cultures as teachers and learners.
Emerging Trends & Technology in the Virtual K-12 Classroom
Again, as the title suggest, this MOOC covers the emerging trends in technology as they relate to the K-12 classroom. Topics covered in this course: (1) the role of technology in the virtual classroom, and selecting the technologies right for you, (2) social learning, (3) game-based learning, badging, and augmented reality, and (4) utilizing open-source content.
Common Core Math and Formative Assessment
We couldn’t not give this one on formative assessments a shout. This MOOC deals with strategies to support students as they struggle with and persevere through math concepts. It also offers tips on how to teach students to communicate reasoning and critique the reasoning of others.
Probably the most interesting teacher-oriented Coursera MOOC we came across was the one on Brain-targeted teaching. This course, offered by Johns Hopkins School of Education, aims to leverage neuro- and cognitive sciences for more effective teaching with the Brain-Targeted Teaching® Model (BTT). The model’s driving them is “the integration of the arts to foster retention of new information, conceptual development, and higher-order thinking and creative problem-solving.”
Have you had success with a MOOC for professional development? If so, which ones? And what did you like about them? If not, what happened? What would you have liked to see?