50 Terrific Open Courseware Classes for Innovative Educators

By Caitlin Smith

Open courseware classes offer a great opportunity for educators — or those with a bachelor’s in Education — to expand their knowledge base while working at their own pace–and without spending any money. The following classes provide an opportunity for you to learn creative approaches to teaching various disciplines, reach special populations among students, bring technology in the classroom, and strengthen your abilities as an administrator or teacher.

Creative Approaches to Teaching Core Curriculum

These classes let teachers go back to school in order to bring fun ways of teaching the standards. From chemistry in the kitchen to using visualization to teach math, these classes will help you learn new ways to present old material. Whether you live in the mountains of Montana or downtown in a major city, these courses are available and accessible to any student with a computer and internet.

  1. Kitchen Chemistry. Practice cooking experiments while learning basic chemistry principles that you can share with your students in this course. [MIT located in Massachusetts]
  2. Advanced Kitchen Chemistry. A follow-up to Kitchen Chemistry, this class examines topics such as cheese making, joys of tofu, and the science of spice. [MIT] Teachers with a background or bachelor’s degree in Science will appreciate this resource for it’s academic level.
  3. Lego Robotics. Design, build, and program functioning robots using Lego robotics, then take your knowledge back to share with your students. [MIT]
  4. Introduction to Robotics. Find out what the class at MIT built, then learn to design and build your own robotic system in this class. [MIT]
  5. Toy Product Design. Learn to design and prototype toys in the mechanical engineering class. Modify what you learn to create hands-on projects in your classroom. [MIT]
  6. How to Make (Almost) Anything. Using several types of CAD/CAM machines, learn how to make almost anything in this design class. [MIT]
  7. Practical Electronics. Learn to create practical electronic devices in this class that teaches how to create such items as remote controls, timers and clocks, and light or sound activated devices. [MIT]
  8. Expository Writing – Food for Thought: Writing and Reading about Food and Culture. Studying the impact of food on culture in this class, then share your knowledge with your English or social studies classes. [MIT]
  9. Concept-Centered Teaching. Find new ways to engage your science students by helping students to better understand key concepts and eliminate student misconceptions of science education when you take this class. [MIT]
  10. Using visualisation in maths teaching. Learn the basics of visualization, how it affects learning in mathematics, and strategies to implement visualization in the classroom. [The Open University]

Incorporating the Arts

Whether you are painting the hills of West Virginia or helping elementary students with their craft project, these art classes will allow you to bring something special and creative to your classroom.

  1. Furniture Making. Study the history of furniture making, then learn how to design and build a functional piece of furniture of your own creation. Take what you learn back to your classes for a great hands-on project. [MIT]
  2. Introduction to Sculpture. Using a variety of mediums, you will learn about sculpture while you create a piece of your own. Share this knowledge with students to expand your history, social studies, or English classes. [MIT]
  3. Creating musical sound. This class makes a scientific exploration of the many ways sound is made on musical instruments. Incorporate what you learn in science, history, and social studies. [The Open University]
  4. Documentary Photography and Photo Journalism: Still Images of A World In Motion. Gain an introduction to documentary photographers and photojournalists while also creating your own photo documentary in this class. This is great for sharing with students who may be working on family history or community projects, or even recreational photographers headed on vacation to visit the Grand Canyon. [MIT]
  5. Picturing the family. A good class to help learn about history and culture, this course provides an in depth analysis of historical family photos including technical details as well as several cultural aspects captured in the photos. [The Open University]
  6. Introduction to Video. Learn about video recording and editing and about telling a story through videography in this course. Whether filming your cousin’s wedding in Minnesota or seeking a professional career in Hollywood, this course can jump-start your video education. [MIT]
  7. Producing Films for Social Change. Here you will learn how to create a film promoting positive social change and also gain production and editorial skills in the class. [Tufts University]
  8. Using film music in the classroom. Use familiar film music as a tool to teach various aspects of music to students or to open up discussion on art and culture. [The Open University]

Reaching Special Populations

From early childhood to bilingual students to those in special education, learn how to connect with students in a new way.

  1. Infant and Early Childhood Cognition. Learn how infants and young children’s minds perceive the world while also learning about research within this field. [MIT]
  2. Understanding dyslexia. Learn about dyslexia as well as treatment and management techniques in this course. [The Open University]
  3. Language as a medium for teaching and learning. This course examines the affect languages have on the second-language learner in the classroom. [The Open University]
  4. The Linguistic Study of Bilingualism. Learn about the roots of bilingualism, various implications of bilingualism, and educational repercussions of bilingualism in this class. [MIT]
  5. What children’s perspectives tell us about inclusion. Meet children learning in inclusion classrooms and learn their perspectives on such issues as play and learning, gender, and mixed-abilities within the classroom. [The Open University]
  6. Inclusive education: knowing what we mean. This course explores the definition of inclusion, the various models, and several inclusion topics–including determining which students should be involved in inclusion and the potential implications of inclusion. [The Open University]
  7. Autism Theory and Technology. Learn about autism, working with autistic students, and current technology that works to improve opportunities for autistic students in this course. [MIT]
  8. Accessibility and eLearning. Study accessibility, assistive technology, and how it enhances the educational experience of student with disabilities. [The Open University]

Technology in the Classroom

These classes will help you bring technology into your classroom to enhance your students’ learning experience.

  1. Art and Technology. Find out about the relationship between art and technology both throughout history and as it presents itself today. [Capilano University]
  2. Blogs, Wikis, New Media for Learning. Learn the basics for many different web 2.0 technologies that you can implement in your classroom such as blogging and using wikis. [Utah State University]
  3. Understanding Online Interaction. Explore how people communicate online as well as learn how to design environments on the web that are conducive to learning. This is a great course for teachers who enjoy incorporating blogs or web sites in their classes. [Utah State University]
  4. Feeling and Imagination in Art, Science, and Technology. Study philosophy, psychology, and literature to learn how emotion and imagination play into the creative process of science and technology. [MIT]
  5. Writing and Experience: Culture Shock! Writing, Editing, and Publishing in Cyberspace. Practice writing for an online audience through an exploration of American pop culture. This is another great class for teachers who blog. [MIT]

Effective Administration

Take these courses to help strengthen your abilities as an administrator. Both your students and teachers are sure to benefit from your new knowledge.

  1. Economics of Education. This course studies the implications of various educational issues on economics and explores such issues as the effectiveness of mid-career training for teachers and the implications of college financial aid. [MIT]
  2. School business manager: developing the role. This British course explores the reasons that managing the school as a business has become necessary as well as effective ways do so. Much of this class can also apply to American school systems. [The Open University]
  3. Technological Tools for School Reform. By looking at progressive charter schools, examine a case study of school reform using technology as the basis of change, look at the state of school reform, and think about ways to positively shape school reform. [MIT]
  4. School governors: planning for improvement. This course offers suggestions for ways to plan for improvement in your school while taking into consideration the needs of all those involved from teachers to students and beyond. [The Open University]
  5. School governors: organisation and practice. This model from the UK offers an overview and roles of each player in the school governance body and provides tips on effectively using each to the best of their ability. American teachers don’t have to worry about the British content as much of the information carries over. [The Open University]
  6. Communicating Across Cultures. As globalization has become a reality, learn its effects on society and find out how you can become more culturally sensitive to those around you, including students and teachers at your schools. [MIT]

The Art of Teaching

Teaching is an art form in itself, so take these classes to continue learning and shaping the talent you already share with your students.

  1. The Nature of Constructionist Learning. Learn about education and learning within a constructionist framework in this course. [MIT]
  2. Gender Issues in Academics and Academia. Gender differences in learning and how it impacts the classroom experience is the focus of this class, as well as how gender issues affect those in academia. [MIT]
  3. Thinking about how I work with other professionals. This course allows self-exploration as you examine the ways you work with other teachers and administrators. It also allows for self-reflection on how to improve your working relationships while maintaining your values and beliefs. [The Open University]
  4. Introduction to Teaching and Learning Mathematics and Science. This course takes the student through the experience of teaching and offers hands-on opportunities to learn about both teaching and the students’ learning in the classroom. This may be a good refresher course for teachers who have been out of school for a while. [MIT]
  5. Working with young people: roles and responsibilities. Learn about the different roles adults play in the life of young people, discover the role you play as a teacher, and learn to develop the role model you wish to be for your students. [The Open University]
  6. Teaching for good behaviour. This course explores the ways you can set up your lessons to engage students while minimizing problem behavior. Learn to adjust lesson format, delivery, and content for great results. [The Open University]
  7. Evaluating school classroom discussion. Discussion is an important part of the classroom experience. Find out how to successfully implement discussion in your classroom to better facilitate the learning process for your students. [The Open University]
  8. Enhancing pupil learning on museum visits. It’s no big news that students learn in different ways. This class helps you embrace these differing learning styles while on museum field trips. [The Open University]
  9. Teach Global. Learn about the Teach Global program in this course where you can also find resources about the program and learn about other similar courses. [The Open University]
  10. Introducing observational approaches in research with children and young people. Observation and research are the focus of this class where you will learn about observation as a research tool, the differences between quantitative and qualitative research, and learn the difference between describing and explaining in a research study. [The Open University]
  11. Exploring K-12 Classroom Teaching. This course takes a look at methods of teaching student-centered classrooms while examining various student needs within those classrooms. [MIT]
  12. How to Learn (Almost) Anything. This class looks at learning as a process through hands-on activities. You will participate in a variety of learning situations as a part of the class. [MIT]
  13. The Creative Spark. This course teaches about the creative process–what it is, how it’s valued, and how it grows. Students will create journal writings and study artists of various media to explore creativity. [MIT]