Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Just Signed Up for an Evolution MOOC!

I'm not a big fan of MOOCs but I just couldn't resist a course called "Evolution: A Course for Educators". The instructors are two Ph.D. employees from the American Museum of Natural History in New York (USA). As you probably know, the American Museum of Natural History is very proud of its tradition in education. Here's what they say on their website.

The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational and cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education, and exhibition.
This is a course for educators and that's right up my alley. You may want to sign up as well. Here's the description and the video.
How are all of the species living on Earth today related? How does understanding evolutionary science contribute to our well-being? In this course, participants will learn about evolutionary relationships, population genetics, and natural and artificial selection. Participants will explore evolutionary science and learn how to integrate it into their classrooms.


The AMNH course Evolution: A Course for Educators provides an overview of biological evolution for educators. Informed by the recently released Next Generation Science Standards, the course explores the history of evolutionary theory and the evidence that supports it. We will learn about patterns of human evolution and societal implications of modern evolutionary biology, and how scientists determine relatedness among living and extinct organisms. Course participants will bring their understanding of course themes - along with content resources, discussion questions, and assignments - into their own teaching.
It's a bit disturbing that the Next Generation Science Standards don't mention random genetic drift, Neutral Theory, speciation, or population genetics [Natural Selection and Evolution] but the course promises to cover population genetics and I assume that it will also cover all mechanisms of evolution since it's being taught by an evolutionary biologist (Joel Cracraft).

The purpose of the course is to train the next generation of high school (and university) teachers. One of the instructors, David Randle, is an expect on education. We all know that teachers need to be updated on modern evolutionary theory.

It starts next Monday. I'll let you know how I'm doing when I write the first test.