CIES goes virtual: How teachers learn online

By Ashley Williams

March 27, 2020

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Comparative & International Education Society (CIES) conference is carrying on — moving to a virtual environment.

The online version is an appropriate medium to discuss the panel topic: “How teachers learn: Making teacher professional development through education technology effective.” The session, organized by Creative’s Principal Technical Advisor Karen Tietjen, explored the promise and challenges of Mass Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to train teachers around the world. It drew more than 50 participants.

“I hardly need to tell a group of educators that research shows that teachers are the most important school-related factor in student learning,” began Tietjen. “But we also know that the world is facing a teacher shortage.”

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 69 million primary and secondary teachers must be recruited by 2030 in developing countries if Sustainable Development Goals are to be met. Beyond recruitment, these teachers must be well-trained.

“Many new and existing teachers will not have the skills for effective teaching and learning to take place,” said Tietjen. She noted that the three primary challenges to this are how to: reach teachers with training on a large scale, train and support teachers effectively, and do so affordably.  

MOOCs offer an online way to provide high-quality, flexible coursework to an unlimited number of teachers. In order to succeed, they must be created in a way that marries the individual best practices of both teacher professional development and MOOCs.

Best practices for designing online courses in low-resource settings

Joyce Catsimpiris, Senior Technical Officer for Learning Platforms at FHI 360, explored how the American English E-Teacher Program has created MOOCs to reach and teach educators in low-resource settings while maintaining high participation and completion rates (06:25 minutes in).

Using neuroscience to design Arabic language MOOCs for teacher training

Iman Elhaddouzi, Arabic Literacy Coordinator for the USAID-funded and Creative-implemented National Program for Reading, spoke about how the project in Morocco drew on three neuroscience principles (attention, active engagement and anchoring) to create MOOCs (22:25 minutes in).

Designing accessible online learning for diverse educators

Sarah Bever, Senior Technical Advisor at IREX, discussed how to ensure the learning needs of a diverse set of educators are being met through MOOCS (38:00 minutes in).

Using adult learning practices in MOOCS to increase retention and completion

Kara McBride, Senior Education Specialist at World Learning, shared key learnings from three MOOCs that she lead designed and provided recommendations (57:37 mins in).

Continuing the discussion

Panelist Penelope Bender, Head of Global Education Services for Burda Education, noted in her presentation that “improving teacher education practice at scale is the most difficult and complex part of improving education outcomes” (1:12:41 hours in). She invited panelists to share their thoughts on the results MOOCs have produced in teacher behavior and student learning, the complementary strategies required to reinforce MOOCs, and ways to promote equity  in terms of gender, language and accessibility.

Tune into the conversation at 01:19:50 to hear the panelists answer questions about their experiences with MOOCs.

While we are experiencing a global moment of working and learning from our homes, these discussions about online education are especially relevant. Continue to follow and participate in CIES on twitter with the hashtag #vCIES.

Sign Up

For our mailing list


Comments are closed.