MOOC designed for teacher prep launches

On 8/20/2014

   
   

State-funded MOOCs designed to help teachers meet the state's rigorous academic standards

The first of Lipscomb University’s 10 proposed MOOCs (massive open online courses) designed to prepare Tennessee’s teachers, both pre-service and in-service, launched today.

The first course, Introduction to Tennessee Academic Standards, can be accessed at courses.ayersinstitute.org. This course is the first MOOC offered by Lipscomb University through the College of Education’s Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning and Innovation.

The MOOCs were financed through a $571,000 grant from the Governor’s Online Innovation Fund of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Increased development of MOOCs statewide is a part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative to enhance Tennesseans’ access to higher education.

Lipscomb is the only university in the state offering MOOCs focused on Tennessee’s college and career readiness standards and associated strategies and one of only two Nashville universities offering them in education topics at this time.

The courses were designed with a facilitator’s guide so they can be incorporated easily into teacher preparation programs in universities across the state. Tennessee universities can use the free online courses and facilitator’s guides as part of their curriculum, or they can agree to provide course credit, at their own determined tuition rate, for students who complete the facilitated versions of the courses on their own.

“In order for student achievement in Tennessee to continue its improvement, new teachers must be ready to implement the state’s rigorous academic standards from the moment they enter the classroom,” said Lipscomb College of Education Dean Candice McQueen. “A free MOOC open to any new and working teachers allows all Tennessee teachers to focus some of their time on making sure top-quality standards are met and all students are college- or career-ready.”

The MOOCs were developed by the Lipscomb College of Education’s Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning and Innovation, and while designed for undergraduate teaching majors at any university, they can be taken for free by anyone. Course two, Planning and Assessing for Learning, is expected to be launched in September, and course three, Pedagogical Shifts to Instructional Strategies, is expected to be launched in October.

“These courses were developed based on input from the Ayers Institute advisory board, which includes leaders in teacher preparation programs from across the state,” noted Julia Osteen, MOOC program director at the Ayers Institute. “These advisors and the teachers in the pilot test group described the courses as well-structured and relevant to today’s classrooms without being too much of a workload burden.”

Through a combination of online resources, Powerpoint, video of model teachers conducting lessons and take-away practice activities, the online modules demonstrate creative ways to engage students and align curriculum with the Tennessee academic standards.

“Pre-service teachers, still in college, don’t have a lot of hands-on experience in the classroom. So to be able to see model teachers in action, demonstrating effective ways to incorporate career and college readiness standards in every day lessons, is very valuable,” Osteen said. “According to the pilot audience, that is one of the most valuable aspects of the Ayers Institute MOOC.”

The practice activities are intentionally designed to be useful later in the teacher’s own classroom, and students can go through the course at their own pace, Osteen said.

To see the MOOC, or other educator preparation materials from the Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning and Innovation, go to ayers.lipscomb.edu.