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Summer Professional Development With MOOCs

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A closeup of a young adult female sitting at a desk, looking at her laptop. She has one hand on the mousepad, and the other is resting against her face with her elbow on the desk.

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.

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.

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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.

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, 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 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 ( 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.

Adria Jackson's picture

I've enjoyed Coursera programs very much, especially those concerning Data Science, Programming and some Biology related courses. I believe that a Python course was the most productive for me - Instructors from Hopkins were so much fun! They have completely accepted fundamentally formal and dry nature of their material, and made something wonderful out of it. Coding is such an essential skill these days, digital literacy is on par with traditional reading skills. It is possible to create something very complex with it, like SIRI level AI, or something simple but useful, like a navigating app for distance calculation - - and plotting a route. But you are right to point out that online education is not just about tech. It can teach people about music, climate, social dynamics and many other topics.

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