Coursera to offer MOOCs for teachers

The online education platform Coursera this week announced a new series of free courses to help elementary and secondary teachers improve their technique, with offerings from teaching experts at premier museums and universities.

The series will debut in July with a course from the Museum of Modern Art called “Art and Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies for Your Classroom.”

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Others to follow include “Effective Classroom Interactions” from the University of Virginia and “Engaging Students through Cooperative Learning” from Johns Hopkins University.

Robert Pianta, dean of U-Va.’s Curry School of Education, described the university’s participation as “a toe in the water” to learn more about the potential of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, to help the teaching profession.

Pianta said the U-Va. MOOC aims to help teachers “see and identify interactions that can be effective for kids’ learning,” such as feedback in early childhood settings.

Among the MOOCs in the series that might draw outsized notice are one from a co-founder of the KIPP charter school network, Dave Levin, called “Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms.”

Another, from the American Museum of Natural History, is called “Evolution: A Course for Educators.”

Yet another, from an organization called the New Teacher Center, is geared to helping teachers navigate new national standards for what students should learn, known as the “Common Core,” which have become somewhat controversial.

Coursera, based in Mountain View, Calif., was launched in April 2012. It now has more than 3 million registered users.

“At Coursera, we hope to support millions of teachers around the world in expanding their skills, networks and knowledge, by opening up access to some of the best resources out there, free of cost,” company co-founder Daphne Koller, a Stanford University computer scientist, said in a statement Wednesday.

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