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Digital Learning

Teacher Professional Development Partnership with Coursera

As one of Vanderbilt University's digital learning Initiatives, Vanderbilt University's Peabody College is partnering with Coursera to offer a teacher professional development course online.

  • Given Peabody's position at the cutting edge of educational research and development, we have a commitment to outreach and support beyond our local community.
  • This gives us the ability to apply our faculty's research findings to activities in the K-12 classroom.
  • This initiative involves working with museums and with organizations focused on new teacher support as well as with other schools of education in order to improve teaching practices within the US and across the globe.

The course is the next step in a partnership between Vanderbilt and Coursera, a leading massive open online course provider. For more about the partnership, read the press release on the Vanderbilt News website.

Dean Camilla Benbow on the Teacher Professional Development Project:

Camilla Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development, has been a strong supporter of this new digital dearning project.  As she describes it:

"Teacher professional development is one of the thorniest challenges in PreK-12 education. Teaching suffers because teachers lack the necessary networks of professional support as well as access to new knowledge based on research. The partnership with Coursera will enable teachers to learn from scholars at leading education schools and to support each other better in strengthening their teaching skills. We are very excited about the possibilities Coursera holds for innovation and improvement in our nation's schools."

Other institutional partners:

In addition to Vanderbilt, six other schools of education have joined in this teacher professional development project, including the College of Education, University of Washington; Curry School of Education, University of Virginia; Johns Hopkins University School of Education; Match Education's Sposato School of Education; Relay Graduate School of Education; and University of California, Irvine Extension.

Also joining Coursera's network of partners are educational institutions and museums including the American Museum of Natural History, Commonwealth Education Trust, Exploratorium, The Museum of Modern Art, and New Teacher Center.

Vanderbilt's First Teacher Professional Development Course: CoreThink!

Vanderbilt's course, "Student Thinking at the Core," is sponsored by the Peabody Department of Teaching and Learning and has been developed by Marcy Singer-Gabella and Barbara Stengel, professors in the practice of education.  The four-week course will be offered beginning January 2014, and registration and materials for the course are free.  The course is especially geared for teachers who are already in the classroom and can apply what they learn as they are learning it.

This course explores how teachers can capitalize on what students bring to the classroom - their ideas, perceptions, and misunderstandings - to advance the learning of all students in the class, a practice we call "leveraging student thinking."

Learn more or register for this free teacher professional development offering on the Coursera website.

Digital Partnering

As "early adopters" of the large online format for Peabody College, Singer-Gabella and Stengel seek to test the affordances of this new instructional medium, while reaching large numbers of teachers -- including Peabody alums.  "A MOOC is a new tool that lets us reach a much broader audience," says Stengel,  but our purpose here is more enduring:  to enable teachers to think collectively and reflectively about practice."  Students enrolled in the MOOC will find that examination of their own and others' practice is part of the course requirements.

They see their Coursera course as a chance to reach a broad audience – a way of amplifying the message the Teaching and Learning department tries to spread about what contributes to effective teaching. "The most critical resource that teachers have to work with are the experiences and understandings of their students," notes Singer-Gabella. "This course takes that point seriously – positioning teachers' ongoing work with students as the object of their learning.  Our MOOC is designed to enable teachers to develop their knowledge and skills in the context of teaching practice, and with the support of professional peers."