Some say innovations trickle from top to bottom.
Beginning this summer, Coursera will offer K-12 teacher development courses for free, courtesy of partnerships with seven "traditional" ed schools including College of Education at University of Washington, John Hopkins University School of Education, Relay Graduate School of Education and others, along with more recreational institutions like the American Museum of History, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Exploratorium.
That means in addition to covering the 101 basics of teaching, classes will allow teachers to explore more niche topics like "Tinkering Fundamentals: Integrating Making Activities into Your STEM Classroom." (Check out the current list of courses.)
The cost to run these PD MOOCs are expected to be lower than what Coursera's "mainstream" college partners pay, which typically range from $10K-$50K for each 10-week course. One reason may be that the duration of these PD courses will likely be shorter, lasting only three to four weeks. The company also plans to issue statements of accomplishment for teachers who finish the classes.
"We are particularly excited about the opportunity to offer professional development for teachers that are more targeted and differentiated, based on their skills and experience," says Julia Stiglitz, who oversees business development and partnerships at Coursera, and who was previously a teacher and Program Director at Teach for America.
This "first foray into early childhood and K-12-level education" raises an obvious question: will Coursera move deeper and, say, partner with prestigious high schools to offer MOOCs for K-12 kids?
The company says there are currently no plans, but adds that it has already seen many high school students take MOOCs as part of their college prep work. Still, we wouldn't be surprised if Coursera changes its mind somewhere down the line.