Coursera, a major player in the world of providing "massively open online courses" in higher education, is making its first move into the K-12 landscape through an effort to provide free training and professional development to teachers in the United States and other countries.
The move appears to represent one of the clearest indications of the role that "MOOCs," which to date have been primarily a higher education phenomenon, could play in the world of elementary and secondary education, a question that technology advocates and school officials have been debating for some time.
In college and university settings, MOOCs have allowed institutions to post courses online, allowing for the academic content provided by faculty to be shared with new audiences on a huge scale.
The forums have also met resistance in some quarters, from those who say the forums create the potential for sharing weak content, and in some cases from faculty and others who aren't comfortable with their institutions giving others free access to their courses, without any constraints.
Some have speculated that MOOCs' greatest potential value in K-12 settings might come through the sharing of courses and curricula for students, but Coursera's announcement this week heads in a different direction, focusing on building the skills of classroom educators.
In addition to marking Coursera's first step into early childhood and K-12 education, the company said the new arrangement is the first time it has partnered with non-degree-bearing institutions in making their resources available online.
Seven institutions and organizations have agreed to partner with the Mountain View, Calif.-based company in posting professional-development and teacher-training resources online, Coursera officials said. They are the University of Washington's college of education; the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education; the Johns Hopkins University school of education; Match Education's Sposato Graduate School of Education; Vanderbilt University's Peabody College of Education and Human Development; the Relay Graduate School of Education; and the University of California, Irvine.
Initial courses will cover areas such as content development, curriculum associated with the Common Core State Standards, character education, putting in place "flipped classrooms," and using blended learning, the combination of online and in-person instruction.
Read the full post on the Marketplace K12 blog.