Obama backs MOOCs for teachers

President Obama gives backing to University of London and UCL Institute of Education teacher development courses

President Barack Obama has given his support for teacher professional development Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  

He has approved a scheme of 50 professional development courses for teachers that include the three UCL Institute of Education (IOE) MOOCs offered via the University of London International Programmes and delivered by Coursera, the world’s largest MOOC provider. 

The three courses are ‘ICT in primary education’ (developed in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute for IT in Education), ‘Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing’ (developed in collaboration with Dyslexia International), and ‘What future for Education?’

The programme is open to more than three million American teachers in school districts across the USA. The US Government will endorse certification on completion of a recognised course.

President Obama said that MOOCs will be offered ‘for district-approved professional development courses to any teacher anywhere in the country. Because all the wireless devices and fancy software in the world won’t make a difference unless we have great teachers in the classroom”. 

The UCL Institute of Education and University of London’s International Programmes’ MOOCs have been developed to promote excellence in education and professional practice through advancing practitioners’ knowledge and understanding. The courses have been designed to engage teachers, school leaders and policymakers. By using a digital platform, courses are available to millions of teachers working to improve the quality of teaching and learning globally. 

The Coursera platform allows the courses to draw on a range of resources including video materials, photographs, interviews with leading educational figures across the world, case studies, reports and examples of students’ work.

Dr Clare Brooks, Head of the UCL Institute of Education Department of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment said:  “Encouraging teachers to continue their professional development and take a considered and informed view of aspects of their ways of working are   critical to improving practice. We are delighted that three of our courses are now open to so many teachers across the world.  This important initiative by the US government will encourage and inspire many teachers to enrol.”

The provision of the MOOCs courses to US teachers start from 1st January 2015 after district applications have been verified.