It can be challening to access training when you are supply teaching. Stephen as 'attended' MOOCs and offers his experiences.
I have just completed my very first MOOC. If you haven’t heard of a MOOC its an acronym for massive open online courses offered by some of the world’s leading universities. When I enrolled on Programming for Everybody (Python) I became one of 159,844 learners on the course. Amazingly these courses cost nothing. That’s right, you can study a course offered by MIT or Harvard for free. Some of these courses offer verified certificates which typically cost around $49 (approximately £33) but these are entirely optional. I didn’t pay for a verified certificate but I will still receive a certificate of accomplishment to show what I have achieved.
I took a computer programming course through Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/courses) which partners with top universities to offer courses in a wide range of subjects including Art, Business, Humanities, Science and Teacher Professional Development. Many of these courses are also offered in languages other than English.
Working as a supply teacher you may feel you are missing out on CPD but with the variety and depth of online courses available there is no reason miss out on further study. You may wish to increase or update your knowledge in your specialist subject or you may just wish to study for pleasure and broaden your knowledge. Many courses have no prior requirements but they usually give a guide to how many hours study is required each week. In my brief experience I have found the guided leaning hours estimate to be on the low side.
I enjoyed my first course so much that I enrolled on a second course before I had finished the first course. Having taken a week long holiday over Easter I found I returned to two hard course deadlines and had to work solidly to meet them. The first course I enrolled on was computer programming in Python which took 10 weeks (2-4 hours per week) and the second course was computer programming in Scratch which lasted 5 weeks. I would not advise taking two courses simultaneously but it all depends on your personal circumstances.
I have very much enjoyed my online learning experience, a mixture of online lectures, freely downloadable text books (for iPad or Kindle), programming exercises, quizzes and online exams. I should also mention the peer graded essays, where other students assess your work. You are also required to grade other students work but this is kept to a minimum and is far from onerous. You can volunteer to mark additional student’s work which I surprisingly found myself doing. It can be interesting to see a wider range of submitted work especially as the field of students is so diverse.
Many of the resources provided are under a Creative Commons Attribution so you are free to use them yourself in your own teaching. Support is available through online forums and associated groups on Facebook. I am sure I will soon be enrolling on another course and I would strongly encourage everyone to take a look at what is available. Whether you enjoy learning or are looking for career development or even a change of career you will find something of interest. The only limit is the amount of time that you can devote to studying and it can be addictive!
Other MOOCs can be found here https://www.mooc-list.com so do have a look.
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