Hopkins creates free online course to equip PhD candidates with teaching skills

A significant number of PhD candidates will soon become the next generation of faculty members at the university level. And although many of them are experts in their respective fields, they might lack the skills necessary to successfully transition into an instructional position.

To prepare these future instructors for the classroom, Johns Hopkins University will offer a free online course, University Teaching 101, designed to introduce the strategies and skills necessary to meet the demands of teaching at a university level. The Massive Open Online Course—MOOC, for short—will be offered through Coursera and is set to launch on March 17.

"Not too long ago, it was believed that anyone who graduated from a doctoral program was capable of teaching," said Pamela R. Jeffries, the university's vice provost for digital initiatives. "In recent years, however, it has become apparent that teaching is not an intuitive behavior. In addition to content, teaching also involves a complex intellectual process, and to develop the 'art' of teaching, professors require guidance and support."

A course like University Teaching 101, Jeffries says, will prepare new educators to "jump feet first" into teaching positions.

The six-week, six-module course draws expertise from across Johns Hopkins. In addition to Jeffries, instructors include School of Education Dean David W. Andrews; Anne W. Riley, a professor at the schools of medicine and public health; School of Nursing professor Anne E. Belcher; School of Medicine professor Rachel B. Levine; School of Medicine professor Joseph Cofrancesco, Jr.; and Michelle Mentzer, director of the Johns Hopkins Instructional Resource Center.

The course is free, with a Signature Track option available for $49, and open to anyone who wants to participate (you need not be a Johns Hopkins doctoral student). You can register at Coursera.