For excellent and free professional development sign up to FutureLearn. Looking at what is coming up for example, we have from The University of Leicester a course on Real World Calculus: How Maths Drives Formula One and Launches Angry Birds. The course starts on 9th November for three weeks and requires about 2 hours a week. The course is entirely free; certificates of participation are available to buy (£34 plus delivery for this course) if you would like proof of your training.
This particular course is one of the FutureLearn Choices series which offer a chance for students to see what studying a subject at university will be like. It strikes me that these could also provide professional development for teachers too and offer ideas for teaching in the Sixth Form (and lower down the school).
The Preparing for University course includes a video on what lecturers value in their students; I’d say that is what teachers at school value in their students too and all through school, particularly in the Sixth Form we need to be conscious of preparing our students for university.
From The University of Reading, A Beginner’s Guide to Writing in English for University Study strikes me as a useful course for Sixth Form students many of whom take a Level 3 Extended Project qualification.
Looking at courses running and coming up I noticed Logical and Critical Thinking from The University of Aukland which has just started. It is simple to join FutureLearn, sign up with Facebook or create an account free. I joined the course very simply, had a look at the materials and tried a quiz – it seems I understand my obstacles well!
Once you have signed up to a course you can use it at any time, looking at my own profile I realised I had signed up to a course back in 2013 and happily all the materials are there for me to return to at any time I like.
There are many courses to choose from, take a look at all the course categories here. Checking Science, Maths and Technology, I see from The University of Bristol Cracking Mechanics: Further Maths for Engineers; I suspect there may well be some useful videos there to show my Year 13 Further Mathematicians when we study Mechanics.
Another interesting category for teachers and students is Teaching and Studying. I mentioned the Extended Project above, under this category I discovered a course on just that. Already under way, from The University of Southampton is Developing Your Research Project.
You can find out more about FutureLearn here. Looking at FutureLearn’s description of why their online courses work I discovered a reference to John Hattie and his work on Visible Learning. Certainly the structure of the courses is very clear.
I personally like the flexibility of online courses – I can access them for as long as I want whenever I want. I also like the fact that the courses include quizzes to check learning; something I believe is very helpful in supporting our students’ learning.
Writing this blog post I have signed up to rather a lot of courses!
See also Coursera for more free courses from the World’s top universities.