The AMNH is offering three classes on Coursera this Fall: Genetics & Society, The Dynamic Earth, and Evolution. These courses have been organized by the National Center for Science Literacy, Education, and Technology (NCSLET) within the Museum's Education Department. This is the same group that runs the AMNH Seminar's on Science.
I'm very pleased to announce that I've been hired by NCSLET to work with them on all three Coursera classes. I'm a member of the instructional support staff and my responsibilities will include co-moderating the forums, tracking student interactions on various social media platforms (including Twitter and Facebook), responding directly to student questions about content, and identifying content areas where students are struggling to inform our just-in-time teaching responses.
The three classes are part of Coursera's Teacher Professional Development offerings, and as such are geared towards educators. Each of the classes addresses the Next Generation Science Standards for GK-12 education. I'm excited to see how my efforts to translate research to teaching will play out on this new educational technology (MOOCs). I've taken a handful of MOOCs myself, mostly to enhance my own work in the areas of programming and statistics. So I can sympathize with teachers who will be coming to these classes looking for resources and knowledge that can they can bring back to their every day work. This, to me, is the true value of MOOCs—they lower barriers to gaining new skills and exploring new topics.
From Bill Gates' Reddit IAmA: "How do you see technology enhancing Mathematics education without actually replacing it?" And his reply: "The ability to test your knowledge and get refreshed on a topic you are making mistakes on will personalize a lot of the learning experience…. My foundation has funded a lot of MOOCs focused on community college kids or kids who have to take remedial math. I am optimistic these will make a big difference." So there you have it. I agree with Bill and I'm super excited to work with the NCSLET team to help educators test their knowledge and get refreshed on core topics.
If you're an educator or a researcher interested in how teachers are using MOOCs to enhance their own teaching, please consider enrolling in the class. And say hi in the forums!