American Museum of Natural History and Coursera Team to Offer New Online Classes for K-12 Teacher Development

American Museum of Natural History and Coursera Team to Offer New Online Classes for K-12 Teacher Development

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is partnering with Coursera, a leading Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider, to offer Earth, physical, and life science courses for K-12 teachers worldwide. The partnership, initiated in conjunction with several other education institutions across the country, marks Coursera's first foray into professional development for educators at the K-12 level and the first time Coursera has partnered with museums to make their valuable resources available worldwide. Courses will be available beginning in Fall 2013.

"We are extremely pleased to participate in this innovative offering as we experiment with ways to expand the reach of the Museum's professional development resources for teachers," said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. " The Museum is committed to addressing the national crisis in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education by developing and working with others to design successful programs with expanded reach and impact. By directly supporting the work of teachers, these courses will affect thousands of students in the classroom. "

"The American Museum of Natural History has helped countless educators bolster their skill sets, networks, and knowledge for over a century," said Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera. "We at Coursera are delighted to work with the Museum to reinforce those efforts and extend the institution's reach to teachers all over the world, providing them with the necessary resources to lead and support the next generation."

The Museum will offer three courses on the Coursera Platform: Genetics and Society: A Course for Educators, Evolution: A Course for Educators, and The Dynamic Earth: A Course for Educators. All will be offered as free courses under the category "Teacher Professional Development." Ed Mathez, curator in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, along with Rosamond Kinzler, senior director of science education, will teach Dynamic Earth. Joel Cracraft, curator and division chair in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology, will teach Evolution. Rob DeSalle, curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, will teach Genetics and Society.
This partnership extends the Museum's historic educational mission, which has included professional development programs for educators since the 19th century. Today, the Museum provides extensive teacher education onsite and online to more than 4,000 educators annually, including through partnerships with formal, degree-granting higher-education institutions such as City University of New York, Bank Street College, and Western Governor's University. The American Museum of Natural History is also the first museum to offer a free-standing Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. The 15-month MAT program is a unique full-time, fully paid teaching fellowship with benefits and stipend that will be offered to as many as 50 highly-qualified science educators over the course of the five-year pilot program. Coursework specializes in Earth and space science for grades 7-12 and includes real-world classroom experience. More recently, the Museum has offered a series of online professional development classes, called Seminars on Science, for K-12 teachers across the United States with courses in the life, Earth, and physical sciences. Launched in 2000 with three courses, Seminars on Science now offers 12 courses, and approximately 1,000 teachers participate every year.
As with the Masters of Arts in Teaching program and Seminars on Science, the Coursera courses will be taught by Museum scientists paired with experienced educators. The four-week courses will include original work from Museum scientists and resources such as three-dimensional virtual specimens and videos that take educators behind the scenes to the Museum's world-class collections as well as to field sites and research facilities.