Learning through Online Courses
In the past few years, there has been a virtual explosion of online courses for teachers. Course providers such as Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, Futurelearn, EdX and many more, provide rich opportunities not only for enhancing your knowledge, but also for building a worldwide network of peers and experts. These course providers typically offer free courses from top educators and universities of the world, making them highly sought after. The courses are easy to take and require very little technical knowledge to use. Unless you want to get a certificate, most of these courses don’t force you to follow a rigid path. In fact, many of them allow you to learn at your own pace and based on the availability of time. These wonderful resources for teachers, on a wide variety of topics, has made enhancement of our skills and knowledge within our reach.
So how can you get started on your online learning journeys? To begin with, find a course that you would be interested in. It could be a short one to start with when you are just starting out, and one that allows you to complete the course at your own pace. To find the right course, you could go to a site such as Class Central (https://www.class-central.com/). For example, there are a series of introductory courses on teaching called “Foundations of Teaching for Learning”. Once you have found the right course in Class-Central, you can click on the “Go to Class” button on Class-Central course page and you would be directed to the website of the course provider.
The Foundation courses are brought to you by the Commonwealth Education Trust on Coursera (http://www.coursera.com) and the first in the series is available here (https://www.coursera.org/course/teach1). To enrol in the course, you will need to register with the course provider. To communicate with you they need a valid email address. Once you are registered, you can view the syllabus and proceed with the class as per the instructions provided by the Course instructor. For courses that have videos or online lectures, you will need to have sound enabled on your computer. The course providers generally provide students with a forum where they can connect with the instructor as well as co-learners. They also provide the expected hours of study per week and the number of weeks for the course. Profiles of instructors or course creators, as well as their host institutions are also provided for your reference. They may have short quizzes or projects that you may need to complete to successfully complete the course if you want a certificate. Some course providers offer to certify you for free and others charge for certification.
Another example that may interest you is a course from The University of Melbourne called the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills. The course description states - “Learn about ways to assess and teach new and emerging 21st century skills: we cover the nature of these skills, alternative methods of assessment, interpretation and reporting of assessments, and their implications for teaching”. But there are also a host of other courses that need not be professional in nature, such as those for learning of language, health and fitness, music and arts. These courses help in your own personal development, an area that is equally important.
For the past few years, these courses have helped millions of students and teachers get high quality online education for free. Start today!