Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, have forced universities to reconsider their value in light of free high-quality education available online. Coursera, a private company founded by two Stanford professors has been at the forefront of that movement, actively courting new institutions of higher education to their portfolio and trying to monetize the effort by certifying courses for college credit. Now they’re expanding that model to K-12 teacher professional development.
The courses will be free to teachers, and for those who want a verified certificate, there will be a $50 fee. Coursera will verify that the teacher actually completed the course and participated fully along the way.
“In speaking to school administration leaders, I was hearing over and over that many districts today don’t have the resources to deliver good professional development,” said Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera. For teachers, Ng said offering professional development online gives them more choices and could save districts money.
Coursera is partnering with schools of education at the University of Washington, University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt University. In addition, the company is expanding its network of trainers beyond universities to include cultural institutions like the Exploratorium and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).