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California Company Offers Free Teaching Courses for K-12 Education
posted by: Cindy Omlin | May 21, 2013, 08:28 PM   

Yesterday, Edweek published  an insightful article citing new trends in low-cost professional development courses. As professional development opportunities continue to expand via online platforms, "MOOC's" (massively open online courses) are now being offered to K-12 educators. Silicon Valley company Coursera recently partnered with seven universities to provide 28 free courses, with topics ranging from biology and literacy to lessons on how to structure classes and survive the first year of teaching.

Although these courses are targeted to teachers, their accessibility and free cost make them appealing to parents, those considering teaching, and college professors.

"There's a huge need out there," for high quality professional development, said Andrew Ng, the co-founder of Coursera. "For someone trying to see if teaching is their profession this would give them an entrée into what the profession looks like."

Coursera isn't the first company to offer online teaching courses. Currently 74% of teaching colleges and schools of education offer some kind of online-for credit course. However, Coursera classes are free and are not offered for any kind of credit. 

While this opportunity may seem too good to be true, it is not– yet. According to Joe Doiron, a senior analyst at Eduventures, a Boston-based research and data company, this new course arrangement has a limited shelf-life.

"Free is not sustainable," Mr. Doiron said. "Universities are spending money to create these courses." Doiron continued to state that while schools may not be receiving money in exchange for courses, the agreement does offer potentially significant benefits by providing the opportunity to reach large numbers of individual teachers at once. He also complimented Coursera on engaging schools of education, rather than bypassing them. 

"This is an opportunity for us to innovate," said Robert Pianta, the dean of the Curry school at the University of Virginia. "It's a good idea for us to be experimenting in this way. We think it's going to help us go out there to a much broader audience."

Looking for professional development opportunities for summer? Click here to find out more information about Coursera's classes. Clases range from five to thirteen weeks long, making it easy to select a class that fits with your summer schedule. 

Click here to read Edweek's full article on Coursera's online courses.


What courses seem appealing to you?
Comment below.

Originally posted by Ruthie at AAE.

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