Photo Credit: Romualdo Mabuan
The American English (AE) E-Teacher Program, a virtual exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (DOS/ECA), Office of English Language Programs with funding from the U.S. government and implemented by FHI 360, needed a platform for its massive open online courses (MOOCs) and chose Canvas Network. The program was already using the Canvas LMS to deliver online professional development courses to non-native English speaking teachers nominated by U.S. Embassies. The familiar platform allowed the program and its partners to easily transition content developed for the 8-week professional development program to a 5-module format appropriate for a massive, worldwide audience. Other factors considered were ease of registration, lack of certificate paywalls, compatibility with low-bandwidth approaches, and digital badge integration. Compatibility with open licensing was also important, as the DOS/ECA Office of English Language Programs is committed to advancing the Open Educational Resource (OER) movement through Creative Commons licensing.
Over the past year and a half, the program has offered several Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) MOOCs on topics ranging from Integrating Critical Thinking Skills to Professional Development for Teacher Trainers. FHI 360 partners with institutions such as Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Arizona State University, George Mason University, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and World Learning, Inc. to provide grants funded by the U.S. Department of State to develop MOOC content. Our technical experts work closely with partners to ensure that standards related to content, accessibility, and open licensing are applied. As a result, each course is not only a high quality educational tool but also accessible to learners in low-bandwidth areas. Specific features include:
The program has access to a worldwide audience of learners through Regional English Language Offices at U.S. Embassies and Department of State social media channels. Learners from over 100 countries have enrolled in AE E-Teacher MOOCs, with a combined enrollment of over 85,000 in the past five courses.
Teaching English to Young Learners (GMU)
Professional Development for Teacher Trainers (ASU)
Using Educational Technology (ISU)
Integrating Critical Thinking Skills
Active - % of Enrolled
Passed - % of Enrolled
Passed - % of Active
1 Active Learners are those who completed at least one graded assignment.
High enrollment numbers are one thing, but retaining and engaging learners has historically been the challenge of MOOCs. A hallmark of the program’s approach is the use of facilitators, selected from a pool of successful alumni. The facilitators help to moderate discussions and answer questions, fostering a sense of community. So far, 120 alumni facilitators from 58 different countries have helped to moderate the MOOCs. The active learner and pass rate statistics above indicate that the program’s approaches are successfully supporting the needs of the target audience, far surpassing the average rates for MOOC completion (around 10%).
MOOC camps also contribute to high completion rates. MOOC camps are opportunities for learners to engage with each other through facilitated, face-to-face discussions around MOOC content. Some camps are sponsored through U.S. Embassies, but many are organized independently by learners who want to contribute to professional development within their local community. MOOC camps are very popular in the Philippines, Pakistan and Cambodia, among other countries. For the past two MOOCs, a third of survey respondents reported that participating in a MOOC camp helped them complete a course. The program supports camps by hosting a group in the AE E-Teacher community of practice and sharing course materials before MOOCs start.
Canvas Network is committed to helping educators worldwide thrive, excel, and grow. In an effort to achieve this, they will be aligning their online course offerings to meet the different professional development (PD) needs of educators beginning in 2019. Currently, Canvas Network has PD courses--from blended-learning models to learning how to gamify your online instruction. In the coming months, this library will continue to grow and extend to better serve the individual needs of educators worldwide. Not only will Canvas Network have an ever-growing library of PD courses, they will also offer courses that will help Canvas schools receive additional tips, tricks, and ideas as they implement their instance of Canvas. These Canvas-specific courses will help educators deepen their knowledge and love for Canvas and all of its capacities.