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MOOCs Enter Professional Development Realm

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have shaken the higher education industry to its core over the past year as countless elite higher education institutions have gotten into an educational technology arms race, signing on to create courses for providers like Coursera and edX.

Last week, Coursera expanded the breadth of programming offered through this medium by launching a number of professional development courses for teachers in the K-12 sector. This marks a significant departure from traditional MOOCs which are typically focused on advanced academic subject areas.

Coursera Co-Founder Daphne Koller told The EvoLLLution in an email that the courses will open up high-quality professional development opportunities for teachers worldwide.

“We believe that the availability of free online courses will change teacher professional development significantly,” she said. “This will also create access to professional development courses to people around the world who previously would not have had these type of resources — from content, to vast peer networks — available.”

Furthermore, since the courses will be offered from a range of different providers of teachers’ professional development rather than from a single institution or learning provider, Koller said she thinks the quality of learning will be better.

“Because we offer courses from a range of renowned professional development institutions, from schools of education to dedicated professional development institutions to museums, we are able to cover a vast array of educational topics that would otherwise be very difficult for school districts to fully cover,” she said. “We hope that many teachers, schools and school districts will take advantage of this resource.”

Ultimately, according to Koller, Coursera is using teacher professional development as a means to determine whether MOOCs can be effective in the employee learning field.

“Teacher professional development is our first major venture into professional training, and we see potential to expand to provide similar resources for other professions in the future.”