SALT LAKE CITY, US - Learning technology company Instructure, the creator of the Canvas learning management system for K-12 and higher education, today announced a major new experiment in K-12 learning by unveiling a suite of more than 15 MOOCs for teachers, students and even parents on its Canvas Network platform.
The most ambitious collection of K-12 MOOCs to date, the suite includes two Minecraft MOOCs that aim to help teachers leverage gamification best practices in the classroom. Enrollment is free and open for registration for anyone in the world at canvas.net
"Even young kids have gotten very adept at Minecraft, so it can be quite intimidating for teachers," said Jason Schmidt, an instructional technologist for Bennington Public Schools who will teach the four-week MinecraftEdu MOOC. "If I can help get teachers over that hump, imagine how delighted students will be to have a learning environment tailored to their interests for a change."
Instructure is also releasing a Minecraft app for Canvas, which allows students to link their Minecraft account to Canvas and use in-game actions to submit assignments. For instance, students can tag locations of their creations for teachers to visit and explore. Contents of books students write in Minecraft will automatically be loaded into the Canvas SpeedGrader. Teachers can even use Redstone, Minecraft's in-game circuitry tool, to create automatically graded assignments.
"MOOCs have the power to tear down walls and bring our brightest contemporaries together," said Melissa Loble, senior director of Canvas Network at Instructure. "Through Minecraft and other engaging forums, we want to help teachers and students come together to advance education everywhere."
With courses ranging from a Mars mission simulator as taught by NASA to a DIY-focused course that teaches fabrication and circuitry to budding makers, the free Canvas Network offerings bring the power and versatility of online learning to the classroom as well as the home. To this end, Noblesville School District is teaching Canvas Network's first-ever MOOC designed for parents , titled, "Parenting in the Digital Age."
"Parental involvement in K-12 education has one of the biggest impacts on a child's commitment to learning," saidJared Stein, vice president of Research and Education at Instructure. "We're launching the industry's first-ever MOOC for parents to help them understand education in a digital world."
Instructure sought partnering institutions that could help demonstrate the full potential of open online learning. It has already seen notable success with creative approaches to education. Last year, it partnered with theUniversity of California, Irvine and AMC to produce a MOOC based on the hit TV show "The Walking Dead." This course attracted more than 65,000 users around the world.
In total, seven MOOCs for teachers are launching on Canvas Network today, including:
- Digital Literacies 1
- Digital Literacies 2
- Five Habits of Highly Effective Teachers
- Getting Started with MinecraftEDU
- Minecraft for Educators
- Teachers without Borders: Educating Girls
- Tinker, Make and Learn
In addition, seven MOOCs for students will launch on Canvas Network, including:
- College Foundations: Reading, Writing, and Math
- First Peoples to the Early Republic: Born in Colonialism
- Google Ninja
- NASA Space Center Houston's "Mars: The Next Frontier"
- The Civil War Era
- The Gilded Age to the Roaring Twenties
- The Great Depression to the War on Terror