George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Development

Summer Professional Development With MOOCs

Summer is a great time for teachers to enroll in a MOOC, a "Massive Open Online Course." Matt Davis has compiled a list of a few summer courses to consider.
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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 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.

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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

Teaching Statistics Through Data Investigations: Data is changing the world, and students must be prepared to use it in their careers. This course, produced by the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University, will teach middle school, high school, and post-secondary educators how to approach statistics and data learning in the classroom. Specifically, teachers will learn "an investigation cycle to teach statistics and to help students explore data to make evidence-based claims."
Starts: June 6

Online Teaching and Learning in K-12: The web is a powerful tool for engaging and teaching students. But what's the best approach to online learning in K-12 education? This course, from the Canvas Network, is designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to online teaching and learning in K-12. Participants will explore pedagogical approaches, as well as best practices for teaching online.
Starts: June 20

Foundations of Teaching for Learning: Introduction to Student Assessment: This seven-week course from the University of Texas at Arlington covers all-things related to technology integration. Participants will explore ideas for integrating technology in K-12 classrooms, evaluation strategies, relevant research, and more.
Starts: July 11

Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology: This course from MIT provides a "practical overview for selecting, implementing, and evaluating educational technology initiatives." Participants will examine technology integration in-depth, including tips for choosing appropriate technology and strategies for evaluating the effectiveness of tech-integration initiatives.
Starts: July 14

Blended Learning -- Personalizing Education for Students: Are you interested in blended learning? If so, this course, from the New Teacher Center, Silicon Schools Fund, and Clayton Christensen Institute, is perfect for you. Over six weeks, participants explore different blended learning models, implementation challenges, the role of the teacher in blended learning environments, and much more. Ultimately, students prototype their own blended learning model.
Starts: Self-paced

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.

  • 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.

  • Canvas Network: The Canvas Network offers courses from a variety of universities, including Columbia University and Arizona State University. Courses are available in nearly any subject and the majority of courses are free.

  • 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.

  • 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.