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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Summer Professional Development with MOOCs

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 to find courses of your own.

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

Where to Find MOOCs

  • Coursera: This portal, which was started by two former Stanford University professors, might have the most promise for educators. Most courses are free to participate in. 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 education section has some fun and useful courses for educators, many of which are free, including "Google Earth for Educators" and "Apps in the Classroom." (Both are free.) 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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inspirepassion's picture

Another one to consider is "Making Learning Connected (#CLMOOC) - a collaborative, knowledge-building and sharing experience through Educator Innovator open to anyone interested in making, playing, and learning together about the educational framework known as Connected Learning." (http://clmooc.educatorinnovator.org/2014/) I have enrolled.

Michael Alderman's picture
Michael Alderman
Content Manager | TEAM Schools

These are great suggestions for teachers over the summer, especially for folks who don't get a lot of high-quality development throughout the year. I would suggest the RELAY GSE courses on Coursera. The character ed course is very popular and hosted by Dave Levin, a co-founder of KIPP. The Together Teacher course is also great and helps teachers come up with an organizational structure for their day and week.

Matt Davis's picture
Matt Davis
Freelance Contributor at Edutopia
Blogger 2014

Thank you for catching that Lorraine. The link above has been updated.

Katie Finley's picture
Katie Finley
Social Media Manager at Neu Academic

These are great suggestions! As far as where to search for MOOCs, I would also check out SkilledUp (http://www.skilledup.com/), another great aggregator. It searches courses, tutorials, and free online videos, so you're bound to find something interesting!

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

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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

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

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