What Makes Teacher Professional Development (TPD) at Coursera Different

What Makes Teacher Professional Development (TPD) at Coursera Different

Image 1 ISTE2014 Quotes Edutopia

“Don’t wait for someone to create PD for you. Create the PD you deserve.” Jennie Magiera at ISTE2014

The lack of relevant and high quality teacher professional development in Indonesia is one of the major causes of the decrease of Indonesian teacher’s quality. In fact, teachers need to be lifelong learners to teach effectively. When teacher stop learning, they start to grow their fixed mindset which could impact negatively into the students’ mindset. Therefore, there is a clear need of teacher professional development (TPD) for Indonesian teachers. To fulfill the need of super-busy and hectic of Indonesian teachers, TPD should be easy to access and flexible. As one of the biggest MOOCs platform, Coursera provides the opportunity for teachers to do their get ideal TPD.


Image 2 Coursera Teacher Professional Development Category

To access TPD of Coursera, you can access it at www.coursera.org. Then, you need to go to courses section and choose Teacher Professional Development categories. After that, you’ll get many interesting courses of TPD offered by top institution and universities from all over the world. Besides that, you can also choose specialization program in which you can get series of courses and special capstone project and certificate. This specialization program has been designed to help us get complete insight of what we want to learn. The example of TPD specialization program is Foundations of Teaching and Learning and Virtual Teacher Program as the picture below.



 Image 3 Teacher Professional Development Coursera Courses

The e-learning practice at Coursera work is user-friendly. After you signed up specific course. You will get this type of interface. On the left side, you will get what you need to begin this course. Each week, they send you announcement to remind you about the updates of the courses. This announcement would also be sent to your email. Then, you could get course structure, weekly topics, and assessment methods in syllabus column. In addition, you can get the course content such as video lectures, weekly guides, resources and references (each course may have different name on course content). You can easily participate in quiz, peer assessment, and discussion forum as part of your assessment. Getting to know your course’s instructor in the  course administration column. On the right side of the home page, there will be reminder for new lectures, upcoming deadlines quizzes and assignment. I find the structure and function of Coursera’s courses home page is very clear and helpful especially for the first e-learning students. As teachers, I think coursera has inspired us to design simple course structures. You can the whole picture of what I’ve talked in the image below:


Image 4 Coursera Course Structure

The practice of works in coursera reflects its understanding of learning. Coursera provides complete package for all you need for learning. You will get understanding of your topic from downloadable video lectures, reading materials, and discussion forum. It could be easily accessed every time and every place. Usually, there will be one topic for one week so you will have plenty of time to really learn weekly topics. Additionally, your will also participate in learning experiences by checking your understanding in quizzes and assessments. Learning doesn’t stop there. You still can interact with your course instructor and fellow coursera students in discussion forum.

This is what makes Coursera TPD different. The underlying theory of learning at coursera using seven affordances framework to analyze e-learning environment of technology from E-Learning Ecologies theory by Kalantzis & Cope (2012)


Image 5 Seven Affordances Framework for e-Learning(Kalantzis & Cope, 2012)

The first dimensions is ubiquitous learning. Many teacher professional developments are limited to space and time. In the midst of teacher’s super busy activities, Coursera has deleted ‘4 walls of the classroom’, transportation problem, and certain specific date and time for learning. Teachers could learn anywhere, anytime, anyhow after school or at the weekend.  Each week you can access Coursera from your PC, laptop, or mobile apps to learn.


Image 6 Coursera Apps in Android

The second affordance is Active Knowledge Making. What makes Teacher Professional Development becomes ineffective when teachers are not engaged in the knowledge creation. Many seminar and workshop just make teachers as passive knowledge consumers. This is what makes Coursera TPD different. In each course, teachers are challenged to design contextual and local implementation of what they have learned. For example, in Foundation of Teaching courses, you can find a lot of peer assessment and discussion forum topics that challenge teachers to reflect best practice and ideas to produce meanings for their class. The images below provides you real example of discussion forum topics that challenge you to produce ideas.


Images  7 Case Study Discussion Multiple Topics

The third Affordance: Multimodal Meaning. I believe digital literacy is the primary skills for teachers now. Unfortunately, it seems TPD in my country still use traditional “academic literacies” using isolated textbooks and modules. It’s time to make teachers learn new media texts and multimodal knowledge representations by providing digital resources and links. Coursera is definitely the best model of multimodal usage. The richness of video lectures, digital presentation links, interactive resources, creative assignment strategies has made teachers to learn various digital literacy skills. These are the example of multimodal resources in one week at Coursera courses.


Images 8 Mutimodal Coursera Resources

The fourth affordance: Recursive Feedback. I think this aspect is one of the most distinctive characteristics of coursera in TPD. In Indonesia, teacher’s certification program use national standardized written tests. Instead of using traditional summative and standardized teacher’s tests, coursera’s course offers formative assessment, prospective, and constructive feedback, big data, and learning analytics that will help teachers learn continuously.  You can see the sample of coursera’s feedback on assignment below. Coursera gives you the opportunity to assess other students using specific rubrics and open ended comments that will become useful feedback for learners.


Images  9 Coursera Assessment Feedback

The fifth Affordance: Collaborative Intelligence. Many people often judge online learning is isolated personal learning. In fact, online learning at Coursera offers more opportunities for teachers to interact and collaborate with their peers from all over the world. Peer assessment, discussion forum, social media, online hangout, and offline meetup encourages teachers to collaboratively produce knowledge, ideas from one another. As seen in the picture below, we can arrange offline meet-up to meet local coursera learners.


Images 10 Multiple Ways of Collaboration at Coursera

The sixth Affordance: Metacognition. There are wide opportunities for Courserians to think about ideas, concepts, thinking using variety of resources such as video lectures, readings, discussion forum, peer assessment, and social media.  Coursera content is no longer single-layered cognition and memory work (e.g., stuff to be e-learned: information, routines, definitions). In fact, you can get multiple opportunities to do your quizzes and assignment before deadlines so that you can reflect what you’ve been doing. This has become one of the best approaches for TPD in which teachers could learn deeper on specific topic. From the image below, you can see several coursera’s quizzes give multiple attempts for teachers to do quizzes so that teachers will have several opportunities to learn from their mistakes.


Image 11 Coursera Quiz Multiple Attempts

The seventh Affordance: Differentiated Learning. Coursera provides flexible learning experiences for teachers from different part of the world. There is one curriculum and weekly guidelines to follow, but Coursera learners could adapt easily when doing their assignment according to one’s need, interest, and identity. I find many Coursera’s assignment challenge teachers to express their unique ideas and thought using multiple ways of presentations such as blog, prezi, PDF, YouTube, etc. The image below will show sample of my course, “Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills” assignment that offers wide opportunity for me to submit my assignment. Here is the instruction:


 Image 12 “Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills” Course Offers Various Method of Presenting Your Work

To sum up, The strengths of TPD at Coursera lies on ubiquitous learning, active participation, multiple Knowledge Making, and flexible online collaboration. However, I think there is some weaknesses of this technology or practice from the perspectives of teaching and learning such as local learners community interaction. the global perspective of teacher’s training program would be translated to local perspective through learning hub in teacher professional development center in each region.

I think Coursera should provide strong and concrete local community interaction and collaboration to accelerate teacher’s professional development growth in Indonesia. We should transform all multiples of teacher’s valuable ideas, concepts, thought into concrete action for their local class and schools. It could be done by providing local learning hub for TPD Coursera that could empower collaboration among teachers to implement what they’ve learned and teach other teachers to learn online using coursera.


 Image 11 IDCourserians Community HomePage

Finally, I conclude that Coursera has fulfilled Kalantzis & Cope (2012)  theory on seven affordances of e-learning framework.  By creating effective ecologies to learn, I recommend teachers to join TPD at Coursera. Then, to address Coursera’s limitation, this is what I’ve made with other Coursera learners in Jakarta, Indonesia: Indonesia Coursera Community. We’ve monthly meetup that will invite Coursera learners to share their learning experiences in Coursera. You can visit our website here : www.idcourserians.weebly and follow twitter @IDCourserians. Join me at TPD Coursera!


Kalantzis, M & Cope, B. (2012). New Learning: Elements of a Science of Education. London: Cambridge https://class.coursera.org/elearning-001/wiki/HomePage

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