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Summer Professional Development With MOOCs

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What is a MOOC, you ask? Well, essentially, it's an open, and often free, university course available online to virtually anyone. And some of the largest and most respected universities in the country have gotten on the "Massive Open Online Course" bandwagon.

For teachers, MOOCs can be a fun and engaging way to expand expertise and gain new skills. And the summer is a great time to enroll in one of these courses. We've collected some interesting upcoming classes for the summer, as well as some sources for finding other classes that meet your needs.

In the meantime, if you aren't familiar with MOOCs, check out The New York Times video below, which explains the ins and outs of this relatively new educational concept.

Upcoming MOOCs to Consider

FLOW Education: Facilitating Learning Through Outdoor Watershed Education: From the National Geographic Society, this course is designed for educators in grades 4-9, and it will help them learn about how to develop and incorporate watershed and outdoor education in the classroom. Presenters will use the Chesapeake Bay as an example of how a watershed can create a fun, interdisciplinary outdoor learning experience for students. Teachers will also learn about planning and implementing outdoor learning experiences.
Starts: June 17

Improving Historical Reading and Writing: This hands-on course is designed specifically for social studies teachers, and it will provide an in-depth look at using writing effectively in the social studies classroom. Educators will conduct exercises and look at examples of how to improve a variety of writing styles with students, as well as discover strategies for conducting peer review sessions and developing rubrics.
Starts: June 22

Foundations of Teaching for Learning: Introduction to Student Assessment: This course from the Commonwealth Education Trust is the perfect introduction to student assessment. Throughout the course, educators will gain first-hand knowledge about "using assessment as part of the teaching and learning process," including strategies and techniques for conducting student assessment, as well as developing in-class assessment procedures.
Starts: June 22

Teaching With Technology and Inquiry: From the University of Toronto, this course is designed for elementary and secondary educators, and in it, educators will "explore STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) learning and discuss some of the major themes and challenges of integrating inquiry and technology" in the classroom. In addition, educators will look at teaching with mobile devices, designing STEAM lessons and assessments, and "inquiry and student-centered pedagogy."
Starts: July 1

Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning: This should be a fun one from The Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum in San Francisco. Participants will look at the "key design elements of high-quality, science-rich tinkering activities, effective facilitation strategies, and environmental organization." And the class is designed for anyone wanting to add tinkering to an educational program.
Starts: July 22

Where to Find MOOCs

  • Coursera: This portal, which was started by two former Stanford University professors, has a lot of potential for educators. Most courses are free to all participants. Check out the Teachers' Professional Development and Education collections for the best teacher-specific courses.

  • Udemy Courses for Educators: Udemy courses are designed and taught by experts in their respective fields. Currently, Udemy’s Teacher Training section has some fun and useful courses for educators, many of which are free or low-cost. Additionally, there are courses for Educational Development, Teaching Tools, and Instruction Design. Also check out Udacity, another source for expert-taught courses.

  • edX MOOCs: A joint project of Harvard and MIT, edX offers courses from a number of top universities, including UC Berkeley and University of Texas. In addition to education-specific courses, edX features tons of interesting math, science, and IT courses as well, along with many other topics.

  • Class Central: Launched in 2011, Class Central is a MOOC aggregator, and it's the perfect search engine for finding the online course that's right for you. See also Canvas Network and NovoED from Stanford University.

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ms. blatteau's picture

As a teacher who works closely with my peers in our own teacher-created professional development, I value these opportunities to learn independently and connect with other educators who are interested in similar topics. The principal at my school informed me of Stanford's online coursework. I have enrolled for the International Women's Health and Human Rights Course. It will inform how I adapt my own syllabus of a human rights course at the high school level in a significant way. Here is the link: https://class.stanford.edu/courses

scottmpetri's picture

While it's not technically offered in the summer, the Canvas Network is hosting Improving Teacher and Student Relationships beginning September 22. This course will give both traditional classroom and virtual teachers resources for improving relationships and interactions with students. After reviewing research and current trends in learning and motivation theory, this course will allow teachers to think-aloud and practice with new tools within a caring community of instructors seeking to improve their classroom practices. https://www.canvas.net/courses/improving-teacher-and-student-relationships

Victoria's picture

For teacher MOOCs- can be a fun and Engaging way to Expand experts and gain new skills develop. , I would also check http://imagiacian.com/, another great site. It searches courses, tutorials, and free online videos, so you're bound to find something interesting on it.

Sydney's picture
Passionate about entrepreneurship, elearning and extreme sports.

Learning how to learn! It's a course that just came out recently on Coursera which I strongly recommend. I think not enough emphasis is being given to learning styles and the course is doing a great job at giving practical knowledge!
Check out my blog www.elearnhero.com we usually mention the last great courses that we found!

Hilary's picture

Some great courses recommended already! The Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills MOOC run by the University of Melbourne (https://www.coursera.org/course/atc21s) is also currently running. It is near the end of the course but you can still register and access materials and teaching resources etc and get a general feel for how the course works. It puts a focus on developmental assessment and teaching and provides practical tools such as developmental progressions for the classroom.

Priyanga Shimada's picture

Professional development refers to many types of educational experiences related to an individual's work. Many fields require members to participate in ongoing learning approved by the profession, sometimes as a requirement for keeping their jobs. In education, research has shown that teaching quality and school leadership are the most important factors in raising student achievement. For teachers and school and district leaders to be as effective as possible, they continually expand their knowledge and skills to implement the best educational practices. Educators learn to help students learn at the highest levels. Many people may not be aware of their local school system's methods for improving teaching and student learning. Professional development is the only strategy school systems have to strengthen educators' performance levels. Professional development is also the only way educators can learn so that they are able to better their performance and raise student achievement. Many misunderstandings exist about professional development, its purpose, and how it functions. Therefore, I feel MOOCs sounds really good for teachers who are looking for quality PD programs.

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