“I feel like this MOOC gave me the opportunity to learn even more than I would have learned in a face-to-face course.” – Teaching Character course feedback, March 2014 session
If you’re a teacher, a parent, a counselor, or anyone who interacts with young people, you know the importance of character strengths and skills. You might have seen a gritty C+ student stick with a project after his A- partner got distracted, or watched a young child’s confidence bloom after she finally mastered a challenging skill. Time and time again you’ve witnessed work ethic and deliberate practice carry the day.
As a subject, teaching character matters.
When Relay Graduate School of Education launched our first session of Teaching Character in February, we expected our roster to consist almost entirely of formal educators. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that parents, grandparents, college students, community organizers, bankers, and activists also wanted to take part in the course. And while surveys indicated that only 17 percent of students knew “a lot” about the subject matter before the course began, 82 percent knew a lot after it concluded.
As a course, Teaching Character matters.
Based on these remarkable outcomes, we are running the Teaching Character course this month, with notable improvements based on our learners’ feedback:
Enhancements made: You’re not alone! Nearly 53,000 videos were downloaded from the course, many by school leaders who facilitated the material during in-person trainings. We think that’s great! To that end, we’ve designed a blended learning guide that’s full of supplemental session plans and presentations. We predict these resources will empower educators to come together, practice the techniques, and reflect on character in their own school.
Enhancements made: We agree! In addition to staffing our discussion forums with nine Teaching Assistants, we’ve rebuilt the final project to be an online learning portfolio that draws answers from discussion forum prompts. Not only do we think this will incentivize more discussion, but it will provide an authentic assessment for both educators and non-educators.
Enhancements made: We heard many people remark that the four-week window was too short. Based on that feedback, Relay extended the duration of the course by ten days, and we are releasing all course materials (including the final project) on Day One. We hope that this additional flexibility will allow for more students to take advantage of all the materials.
From the ripples of optimism to using context clues to define “constable,” we are excited to again introduce psychology to K-12 pedagogy. Join us for the second session of Teaching Character, which begins today, May 7.