Editor’s Note: As August passes, many teachers may be thinking about classroom planning. We will be sharing a series of stories along the theme of “Back to School” over the next month that offer different ways for teachers, parents and students to get ready for “Back to School” season. The following post is written by Dr. Ro Kinzler, Senior Director, Science Education at the American Museum of Natural History
Barely a day goes by without new media coverage of the rapidly growing MOOC world. While they’re still in their infancy, MOOCs are quickly proving that they’re a force with which to be reckoned. Many people – in and out of academia – are both excited and concerned about this innovative approach to teaching and learning, and it’s become especially important for educators to explore both the opportunities and the challenges of online education.
This is why the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is so excited to partner with Coursera on its teacher professional development initiative. Coursera initially announced this partnership back in April, and today we wanted to share a little more background about the Museum and what types of courses we’ll be offering through Coursera.
The AMNH has a long tradition of providing access to innovative and effective educational opportunities. These opportunities are available to students, teachers, and the general public, and are informed by the Museum’s enormous scientific enterprise. Our 200 full-time scientists conduct more than 100 field expeditions around the world each year, and are the stewards of more than 32 million specimens and cultural artifacts. Their research is used in our exhibits, teacher professional development workshops, after school programs, and in our online courses.
The Museum has long believed in the transformative power of the Internet to educate, engage, and inspire. For more than a decade, it has offered online graduate science courses to educators via its Seminars on Science program. With a dozen courses in its portfolio and another course currently in development, Seminars on Science has provided quality professional development to nearly 10,000 educators.
AMNH and Professional Development with Coursera
Building on this tradition of online education, AMNH is offering three Coursera courses: Genetics and Society: A Course for Educators (begins on September 9th), The Dynamic Earth: A Course for Educators (begins on October 7th) and Evolution: A Course for Educators (begins on November 4th). Informed by the Next Generation Science Standards, these courses are designed to give teachers the pedagogical content knowledge necessary to teach this material to middle and high school students. Each course is four weeks long, and all three are eligible for Coursera’s Signature Track Program.
AMNH is excited to be part of this global, social, and educational experiment, and we look forward to having educators from across the United States and around the world join us in our courses this Fall.