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4/18/2013
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HP Unveils Online 'STEMx' Courses For Teachers

HP Catalyst Academy will offer teachers MOOC-driven "mini-courses" on traditional STEM disciplines, plus other high-tech subjects.

 8 MOOCs Transforming Education
8 MOOCs Transforming Education
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
This week saw the launch of a new massive open online course (MOOC), this one aimed at educators, specifically designed to help them prepare to teach a variety of technology topics.

HP Catalyst Academy, which goes into beta in June, extends the HP Catalyst Initiative, launched by Hewlett-Packard in 2010. To date, HP has made grants to 56 organizations in 15 countries under the program, which seeks to support innovative teaching methods for so-called STEMx education.

Coined by the HP Catalyst Initiative, STEMx covers not only science, technology, engineering and math, but also other high-technology disciplines such as computer science, nanoscience and biotech. The modified acronym also refers to the skills of collaboration, creativity, communication, problem solving, inquiry, computational thinking and "global fluency."

The MOOC was announced by HP's education partners, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the New Media Consortium (NMC), during the 2013 HP Catalyst Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The meeting attracted more than 120 educators and policy leaders.

"The academy was a way to scale, and let more people have exposure to these innovative ideas," Leslie Conery, chief education officer of ISTE, told InformationWeek in a Skype call from Sao Paulo.

The MOOC is not just for teachers, said Conery. Interested students will be encouraged to check out the academy's courses, she said. Conery also emphasized that the academy was not a monolithic learning management system (LMS) from HP but rather a federation, connecting teachers to STEMx educators, using a variety of online teaching platforms.

These educators -- so-called HP Catalyst Fellows -- will offer a set of online mini-courses covering a wide range of topics, such as digital fabrication, computational thinking, remote labs, game design and social media.

"It's a fantastic opportunity," Debbie Forster, chief operating officer for the London-based charity Apps for Good, and one of the first 15 Fellows, told InformationWeek during the Skype call.

Apps for Good teaches educators how to help students to conceive, develop and commercialize software apps that answer social needs. Although the three-year-old program has scaled from two locations and 50 students to 100 schools and 5,000 students, "there's always a waiting list," Forster said. The academy will let her scale to a global audience, she said.

HP Catalyst Academy is currently accepting applications for additional fellows for the next round of mini-classes, slated to start in the fall.

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