04 May 2013

Coursera offering free teacher training!

I've just been nosing around on Coursera looking for interesting courses to take.  I'd read recently that they'd signed up several new course providers, including the first of their providers that aren't accredited universities.

My first reaction was to doubt the value of non-university courses, but one of these suppliers has brought with them something that was lacking in the previous material: course progression.  Some of the universities have been joining Coursera just because it's the in thing, and others have been using it as an advert for their distance education programmes.  But it's never in a university's interest to offer an entire programme for free.

Enter the Commonwealth Education Trust, a charity whose mission is to provide teacher training at primary and secondary level to improve children's education in developing countries in the Commonwealth.

Their whole goal is to provide complete teacher training for free, so teaming up with Coursera reduces their costs and extends their reach and their 8 module teacher training programme is a win for everyone involved.

Their main target is at practicing teachers who haven't had any formal training, and I'm intending to follow it as a supplement to my CELTA certificate, which I always felt was slightly insufficient as teacher training.  The CET programme is estimated at between 180 and 280 hours in total, covering 46 weeks of activities spread over about 16 months (the first sitting of module 1 starts this August, and the first sitting of the final module starts next November).  In total, that's actually comparable to the amount of time you're expected to spend on a 4 week intensive CELTA course, so I suppose I'm hoping there's a difference due to the quality of content, and the fact that this is general teaching with no specific language focus (I've always felt that language teaching suffers due to a belief that "language is different", so the lessons from general teaching are sometimes ignored).  Also, the pacing of the course should theoretically help long-term retention: my CELTA felt heavily "crammed", with no proper consolidation of learning.

On top of this, the Trust are also offering some kind of certification for people who complete all 8 modules:
On the satisfactory completion of each course you will receive a statement of accomplishment related to the course.  On the completion of all the courses you may contact the Commonwealth Education Trust to request a statement of accomplishment related to the overall program.
I'm not aware of whether the Trust is part of any recognised accreditation scheme, but it's certainly likely to be looked on favourably if you're applying for voluntary teaching work in a Commonwealth country.

I'll be taking it this year (or at the very least "starting it" -- I've got a poor record with free online courses, not having completed a single one yet), so I'll let you know how I get on.  There's a second sitting starting next January.


Julie Cunningham said...

I was just searching to find some examples of how to put this teacher training series in my Acredible portfolio. Can't call it a certification exactly, and statement of accomplishment sounds strange. Or do we just call it Teacher Certification and move on? This won't work for public schools in the US, but might be valuable for private or charter schools.

Nìall Beag said...

Sadly they appear to have withdrawn the free certificate offer and replaced it with the paid "signature track". I'm not interested, not simply because of money, but because I don't think people are going to pay attention to anything marked as Coursera signature track. With an independent certificate, you might be able to talk around any prejudice against "just" online courses.