May 2, 2013
Coursera is partnering with a number of educational institutions and other organizations to provide massive open online courses (MOOCs) for teacher training, Inside Higher Ed reports. This move marks Coursera's entry into K-12 and early childhood education.
Partnering colleges include Johns Hopkins University's School of Education, the University of Virginia's School of Education, the University of California at Irvine Extension, and Vanderbilt University. Also partnering with Coursera in this venture are The Museum of Modern Art, New Teacher Center, The Commonwealth Education Trust, the Exploratorium, and the American Museum of Natural History.
According to Gordon Brown, the special envoy for global education for the United Nations, Coursera's move comes as part of a larger plan to meet the "global challenge of training and supporting over 2 million more teachers" by 2015's end.
Courses offered will be online professional training and development classes intended both for K-12 teachers and parents. The Los Angeles Times (LA Times) mentioned that the courses could specifically be useful to those parents who homeschool their kids. Course examples include common core curriculum, content development, and blended learning strategies. According to UVA Today, the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education will be offering a six-week course on early childhood education, titled "Effective Classroom Interactions: Supporting Young Children's Development." While the courses themselves are free, the LA Times explained, Coursera may charge a fee ranging from $30 to $99 for individuals who want a certificate of completion.
UVA Today noted that the University of Virginia has delved into online education in the past. The university has offered six MOOCs in a variety of subjects, from physics to world history. Additionally, Bridget Hamre, associate director of the Curry School of Education's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, worked with a team to develop an online course for early childhood teachers using funding from a Department of Education grant. Their course aims to help early childhood educators have more effective teacher-student interactions. Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera, commented on the company's partnership with UVA's education school, stating, "The Curry School of Education has had a major impact on teachers over the years, and we believe that opening the institution's resources up to educators everywhere will have a profound impact on education on a global scale."
Inside Higher Ed reports that one major benefit of offering teacher training in a Web format, according to Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng, is the cost benefits for schools: "Many schools just don't have the resources to provide teachers and parents the training and support they need. By providing free online courses on how to teach, we hope to improve this." Melissa Loble, associate dean of distance learning for UC Irvine, further commented on the cost and time benefits of the training classes in the LA Times: "During in-service days, teachers are out of the classroom and the district spends money on sending them to training or bringing in an instructor." Moreover, she stated, Coursera is providing an opportunity for "new kinds of learning that busy and underpaid teachers can utilize. They can participate whenever it fits their schedule."
Koller explained in UVA Today the overall importance of teacher training: "Teachers are among the most important assets for supporting the next generation, and peer support and ongoing professional development can be crucial factors in teacher retention and successful educational outcomes."
Compiled by Aneesha Jhingan
"Coursera Enters Teacher Professional Development Market," insiderhighered.com, May 1, 2013
"Online provider offers courses in education, teacher training," latimes.com, April 30, 2013, Dalina Castellanos
"U.Va. Partners with Coursera on Early Childhood Education Course," news.virginia.edu, May 1, 2013