Massive Open Online Courses

Dr. Cynthia Brame from Vanderbilt University presents a video in a CIRTL online course

These massive open online courses (MOOCs) from the CIRTL Network and related groups are designed to prepare aspiring faculty in STEM fields (natural and social sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to be more effective teachers and confident and prepared early-career academics and professionals. The courses listed below are offered through EdX. The audit track is available for free, with a letter of completion sent by instructors.

Local Learning Communities

If you’re a Cornellian and interested in organizing or participating in a weekly learning community meeting associated with any of the CIRTL Network MOOCs, please contact futurefaculty@cornell.edu to inquire. Groups will have the opportunity to apply course ideas through discussion, and discussion leaders have access to instructor guides with discussion questions and modest technical support. We can help you craft weekly email and assignment reminders tied to weekly course content as well.

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Evidence-Based STEM Teaching Courses

These courses can be taken in either order, depending on if you would like an overview of how people learn (in course 1), or to jump right to in-depth strategies for advancing teaching and learning (in course 2).

Course 1: An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching

An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching is a massive open online course designed to prepare aspiring faculty in STEM fields to be more effective teachers through an introduction to evidence-based STEM teaching practices. You will learn about effective teaching strategies and the research that supports them. You’ll then apply your learning to the design of lessons and assignments for use in your future teaching or job application packages. After completing this course, you will be a more informed and confident teacher, equipped for greater success in the classroom.

Topics include: Principles of Learning: Prior Knowledge and Knowledge Organization; Practice, Feedback, and Motivation; Learning Objectives; Assessment of Learning; Active Learning; Inclusive Teaching; Final Project, Peer Review, and Conclusion.

Next offered: September 27 – November 21, 2021 – Enroll in STEM Teaching Course 1 through EdX

Course 2: Advancing Learning through Evidence-Based STEM Teaching

Course 2 prepares science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instructors to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of both students and teachers. Participants will learn about effective teaching strategies and the research that supports them, including active learning and flipped classroom approaches. This course builds, “An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching.” That course is recommended, but not required, as a prerequisite for participating in this course.

Topics include: Practice and Feedback – Peer Instruction, Problem-Based Learning; Thinking Like a Scientist – Inquiry-Based Labs; Learning Communities – Cooperative Learning, Learning through Diversity; Course Design – The Flipped Classroom;  Principles and Practices – Final Project and Peer Feedback.

Next offered: 2022

These courses draw on the expertise of STEM faculty, educational researchers, and staff from university teaching centers, many of them affiliated with the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL), a network of 40 research universities collaborating in the preparation of graduate students and postdocs as future faculty members. There are opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, both online and locally (contact futurefaculty@cornell.edu for information on Cornell learning communities).

Acknowledgements and Usage

The instructors are releasing most of the learning materials generated for these courses in an open-source manner, so that anyone can re-use and incorporate materials such as videos in new or existing training programs for current and future faculty. Visit the CIRTL MOOCs website to view video content. MOOC development and evaluation research were funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DUE#: 1347605) to Michigan State University and other partnering CIRTL Network institutions.


The Postdoc Academy

The Postdoc Academy is a comprehensive program built on the National Postdoctoral Association core competencies to support skill development throughout postdoc training, from orientation to next career step. This program consists of two free online courses and local learning communities built specifically for postdocs (Postdoc Academy Learning Sessions, or PALS).

Course 1: Succeeding as a Postdoc

The first online course, Succeeding as a Postdoc, addresses foundational skills and career planning, establishing the professional habits postdocs will need to strategically prepare for their career and succeed in their postdoc. Topics include: Finding Success as a Postdoc, Exploring and Preparing for a Successful Career, Developing Resilience, and Working Effectively in an Intercultural Environment.

Next offered: January 2022 – See Postdoc Academy Course 1 on EdX

Course 2: Building Skills for a Successful Career

The second online course, Building Skills for a Successful Career, focuses on developing advanced skills to help postdocs transition to their chosen career path. During this 7-week course, learners are encouraged to network inside the edX platform with course instructors, career professionals, and postdoc colleagues. Topics include: Exploring Leadership, Building and Supervising a Team, Project Management, Applying Teaching Skills Beyond the Classroom, Strategic Communications, and Finding and Landing the Job.

Next offered: TBA

The Postdoc Academy is developed by a team at Boston University, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Northwestern University, with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Meet the Postdoc Academy team


The Inclusive STEM Teaching Project

The Inclusive STEM Teaching Project is a 7-week course designed to advance the awareness, self-efficacy, and the ability of faculty, postdocs, and doctoral students to cultivate inclusive STEM learning environments for all their students and to develop themselves as reflective, inclusive practitioners.

Next offered: October 13 – November 25, 2021 – Enroll in Inclusive STEM Teaching through EdX

The Inclusive STEM Teaching Project has been funded under NSF Directorate of Educational and Human Resources and Division of Undergraduate Education grants. Meet the Inclusive STEM Project team


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