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There seems to be no shortage of online learning sites these days, but a new site is hoping to find its own niche in the crowded market.
Hoping to build a “Khan Academy for real-world skills,” Modern Lessons is a natural extension of what Edudemic founders Jeff Dunn and Katie Lepi were already doing. Now, not only is the duo continuing to inform teachers, students and administrators about the latest education technology—they’re teaching the masses how to use a wide range of tech in general.
(Image credit: Modern Lessons)
“I have seen a lot of blogs and other websites built to tell people about the hottest technology, apps and web tools, but very few are effectively showing you how to use these different resources,” says Dunn. “I wanted Modern Lessons to be a structured way to effectively learn how to use the resources everyone is trying to tell you about.”
Dunn says there were a few types of people in mind when creating Modern Lessons: Teachers who aren’t as tech-savvy as their students, students of any age needing a résumé boost and government officials looking to improve their understanding of technology. To that end, the site’s focus is just as much on educating the developing world as it is everyone else. “We intend to become a simple and useful way for these groups to quickly learn skills and improve their life,” says Dunn. Swahili is even among English and French as a languages courses are currently available in, and Spanish-language courses are on the way soon.
Many of the site’s courses are available free-of-charge, and certificates are awarded for successful completion. There are even accredited, paid courses—offered at still-to-be-determined, but competitively-priced rates—coming this fall. These courses are part of a partnership with EdTechTeacher, an organization that runs courses accredited by Massachusetts’ Framingham State University.
“They require 12 hours minimum class time and a culminating written project for a single graduate credit,” says Dunn. “For two credits, the course needs to be at least 24 hours of class time.”
The current selection of courses ranges from introductions to social networks like Twitter and Learnist to “How to” lessons on registering African domain names and instituting BYOD programs. Dunn hopes to have the number of courses up to around 200 by the end of the year—including a series on using iPads in the classroom by London-based Edudemic writer and Apple Distinguished Educator Adam Webster.
Speaking of instructors, only a handful of people are currently being given the opportunity to teach for Modern Lessons, but Dunn stresses that he and Lepi rarely choose an applicant.
“The site is not meant to be like Udemy or other online learning market places. We want just a few taechers who are passionate and able to offer premium courses for free,” says Dunn. “We want people who will happily teach a course for free to simply improve the world—a modest goal, to be sure.”
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