Tag Archives: CPD

MindEd: free e-learning about kids mental health

logoThe new MindEd website is a free e-learning resource to help adults to identify and understand children and young people with mental health issues. It is aimed at everyone with a duty of care for children and young people, and already offers over 100 short e-learning sessions, with more to follow.

MindEd is completely free to use, with no registration required, although if you do sign up as a MindEd member (free) and complete several sessions, you can record your studying on your personal page and print it as a certificate for your learning record.

I tried five different Autism sessions from within MindEd’s curricula, ranging from introductory sessions aimed at a universal audience, through to a more specialised session. Each is between 20-30 minutes long, and is complete with learning objectives, interesting interactive tasks, case studies, short video clips with transcripts, and self-assessments that help you check what you have learnt. The sessions are colourful and attractive, and the references provided are up-to-date.

MindEd claims to be suitable for use on tablets, phones or computers, so I tried it on a contemporary Android smartphone, as well as a desktop computer. MindEd did not display well on the phone, and cannot be downloaded for offline use, so, for example, it might be difficult to use during commuting journeys.

Another characteristic to bear in mind is that there is no social dimension to MindEd – there are no student forums in which to debate the topics, which are a typical component of MOOCs such as Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People on Coursera or Foundations of Psychology on Open2Study. Perhaps MindEd is better thought of as an interactive reference library that you dip into when needed.

I am very impressed that this project has been created by a consortium of more than seven organisations, and can imagine the amount of work that it has taken. I’d encourage you to explore it – currently MindEd is available to anyone, wherever you are, although eventually users outside the UK may need to buy a licence to access the website. I’ll be very interested to hear your feedback and comments, as I am sure that I have only scratched the surface of this huge resource.

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Open early childhood courses: How do they match up to MOOCs?

twitter_white_on_blue_logo_news_128pxThe University of Massachusetts, Boston, offers a suite of courses in early childhood as part of its free, online OpenCourseWare. These three 2011-dated courses each comprise a self study guide, audio PowerPoint presentations (with links to additional videos), online tests and a wide range of readings. They each take 15 hours to study, and the second and third courses are also offered in Spanish.

Infant and Toddler Guidelines
This course by Professor Mary Lu Love provides a comprehensive view of the development of infants and toddlers. It is arranged in six sessions:
1: Exploring the ELG for Infants and Toddlers
2: Social and Emotional Development
3: Cognitive Development
4: Language and Communication Development
5: Physical Health and Well-Being
6: Beyond the Basics: Best Practices and conclusion
The course is built upon the Massachusetts Early Learning Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers (2010), an excellent 200-page free download.

EEC logoEEC – Core Competencies
The second course by Professor Mary Lu Love is designed to provide early childhood education professionals with the knowledge and skills to assess their own level in terms of the eight core competencies, across the infant-toddler, preschool and out-of-school age range.
Each module is based on one of the eight core competencies:
1) understanding growth and development of children and youth
2) guiding and interacting with children and youth
3) partnering with families and communities
4) health, safety and nutrition
5) learning environments and curriculum
6) observation, assessment and documentation
7) program planning and development
8) professionalism and leadership

EEC – Preschool Learning Standards and Guidelines
The third course, by Professor Angi Stone-MacDonald, is designed to equip early childhood education professionals with the knowledge and skills to teach each content area according to the preschool learning guidelines. It comprises 7 modules covering the guidelines for:
1) Learning in History and Social Science
2) Mathematics
3) Learning in English Language Arts
4) Arts
5) Learning in Science and Technology/Engineering
6) Health Education
7) Early Childhood Program Standards Module

So how do these free courses compare with the MOOCs I reviewed last month? The shared characteristics of the UMass Boston courses include their being totally free to study, with no register or login required. You can download and keep the content, which gives you the freedom to begin whenever you want and study at your own pace, in contrast to the MOOCs that I reviewed last month, which both ran over a fixed 4-week schedule and required registration and log-in. Another difference is that while the MOOCs offer the motivation of large student cohorts (750 at Open2Study, 20,000 at Coursera), you study OpenCourseWare on your own, without any ready-made social dimensions – although they do lend themselves to group study amongst friends or work groups. Finally, UMass Boston’s OpenCourseWare is Creative Commons licensed, which makes them particularly attractive to educators and trainers who may, for example, freely adapt them for particular settings or translate them into different languages. cc-by-nc-sa

So, are these courses better than MOOCs? I think a lot depends upon your own situation. If you need structure and group support to study, then look at MOOCs first. If, however, you prefer to study alone and have sufficient self-discipline, or need maximum flexibility, then UMass Boston’s OpenCourseWare is an excellent option.

Ten educative Facebook groups about childhood

librarianbyday at flickr

During our learning journeys about childhood, it is helpful to belong to a community where the subjects are being debated, so that we can experience other people’s viewpoints and put into context what we are studying individually.
Facebook groups can be just as useful for learning as they are for social networking – in fact, it would be hard to avoid learning from many good ones.
Here are ten open Facebook groups that offer good, supportive communities for different aspects of childhood. The list reflects my own interests so it is not comprehensive, but it may be useful to view them as a quality benchmark when looking for groups in the topics you are interested in.

These groups share common characteristics that make them stand out as well-developed communities offering opportunities to learn from others. They are all open; many features clear rules for participation and all the groups are well-moderated by administrators, so there is very little spam. In addition, the groups often include an archive of topical resources in the ‘files’ tab, and each features a range of members participating and contributing to discussions.

If you don’t yet  belong to a community that supports your individual learning and development, any of the groups listed above would be a good place to start.