Back to School–Virtually!

I recently enrolled in an online course from Stanford University and have been surprised at how much I am enjoying it.  I have two desired learning outcomes for taking the course, How To Learn Math with Jo Boaler: I am always interested in how students learn because of the implications it has for teaching of course, but I am also intrigued with how online courses are conducted.  How do you engage 30 000 students?  How do you possibly assess 30 000 students?  In my new role as Principal of the Centre of Teaching for Learning, my students are teachers and principals and I want to explore some online learning opportunities for them.  My enrolment in this course allows me to research some ways to do that.

To say that I am enjoying this course is a bit of an understatement.  I have actually become quite obsessed with it.  As I was lying in bed last night with my iPad in hand watching a recent session I realized how convenient it is to take an online course.  In the comfort of my own home, and in my pyjamas, I can watch as much or as little of the course work as I want.  Homework assignments are not a chore at all.  The many self and peer assessments give me opportunities to reflect on the new learning.  I am impressed with the depth of the submissions by my peers and am motivated to join in. While required to to assess three peer submissions I find myself reading and assessing more than that just to ‘hear’ from even more of my classmates. Prior to each peer assessment I am provided training on how to assess the particular work presented.  Three sample responses are presented for participants to offer feedback and then feedback is provided on that feedback.  Can you follow that?  Essentially we are being trained to give meaningful feedback.  Bonus!

My classmates are an interesting lot.  Recent stats provided by the course administrator reveal that 62% of them are from the US, and 33% from other countries around the world. 62% are teachers; 16% are parents, 4% are administrators and 18% have “other roles” in education.  That’s quite the classroom wouldn’t you say?

But in many ways it doesn’t feel like I am in a large class because I am getting a lot of attention from my teacher and peers.  This class is offering a more personalized experience than any I have physically attended.  There is some satisfaction too in being able to say “I’m taking a course at Stanford”, and Jo Boaler is my teacher.

I don’t ever recall being so engaged in a course, and so I am thinking that this is a powerful learning platform that I will share with my colleagues.

You can find out more about the free online course at

The course ends September 27; there are 8 sessions that take approximately one hour each…but that hour goes by so quickly because you will be interacting much of the time.  Each session models great teaching approaches rich with peer and self assessments, and reflections.

Aftermath: I was so sad to see the How To Learn Math course come to an end.  In fact I have saved the videos and notes so that I can revisit them.  I have since signed up for another FREE online course from Stanford U: Welcome to Constructive Classroom Conversations: Mastering Language for the Common Core State Standards! Don’t let the ‘Common Core State Standards’ part scare you.  Judging from the course outline there will be lots of opportunities to examine classroom conversations in any setting.

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3 Responses to Back to School–Virtually!

  1. teoh k.h. says:

    I found something useful!!!

    i signed up some free course and cant wait to be a student again! =D

  2. I reraԀ this piece of writing completely on the topic օf the difference of most recent and еarlier technologies, it’s
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