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 enabled institutions to post courses online, allowing for the academic content provided by faculty to be shared with new audiences on a huge scale.
But the forums have also met resistance in some quarters, from those who say MOOCs create the potential for sharing weak content, and in some cases from faculty and others whoaren’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 heads in a different direction, focusing on building the skills of classroom educators.
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.
A version of this article appeared in the June 12, 2013 edition of Digital Directions as ‘MOOC’ Provider Coursera Jumps Into K-12 and Teacher Ed.