Want to teach online effectively? Here are the top 20 (FREE) online courses for teachers
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the world of education, leaving many teachers scrambling to put together remote teaching lesson plans.
As one of those teachers, your evenings are now filled with anxiety as you prepare for that full day of holding online classes.
What lessons are better suited to an online classroom? How to structure things to grab the interest of your students when they have so many distractions around them? How to make the materials easy to follow, interactive, and engaging?
The problem is – you’ve had minimal training when it comes to online teaching. And, you’re afraid that you might be out of your depth.
Add to that Zoom call freezes, Skype glitches, and the Internet going dead on you, and you’re just about ready to pull the plug on the whole thing.
Well, you’re not throwing in the towel just yet – we won’t let you!
We can’t do much about that Internet connection but we can certainly help you work on building up and flexing those distance learning muscles.
Here at All Digital School, we went to work and created the world’s most complete repository of online teaching programs and courses. Think of our directory as a comprehensive list of resources designed with the sole purpose of making your transition from classroom to online teaching as smooth as possible.
In this post, we’ve collected the top 20 FREE online courses that will help you master the art of teaching online classes. Think of them as a crash course on how to become an online teacher that students rave about – a teacher who’s so interesting that they don’t even think about checking their phones until you say your goodbyes for the day.
Let’s dig in and make you a teaching rockstar!
[While you can learn much about distance learning from these online courses for teachers, there’s a lot to be said for connecting with your fellow teachers. Register for All Digital School now (it’s completely free) and get updated on online educational resources and materials to connect with students and teach effectively.
- 1 FutureLearn
- 2 Coursera
- 3 British Council
- 4 University of California
- 5 EMMA
- 6 University of Minnesota
- 7 OpenLearn
- 8 The Modern Classrooms Projects
- 9 Cornell University
- 10 AccessAlly
- 11 (HE) Designing and Teaching for Impact in Online Courses
- 12 Promising Practices in Online Teaching and Learning
- 13 Onlinecourses.com
- 14 ReadWriteThink
- 15 Sophia for Teachers
- 16 Talk2MeEnglish
- 17 Teacher Training Courses
- 18 Visual Design for Distance Education Content
- 19 Foundations of Teaching for Learning: Introduction to Student Assessment
- 20 FREE Distance Learning Course Bundle to Support Educators Impacted by COVID-19
- 21 Start With Your Favorite Free Courses Today (& Share Your Picks With Fellow Educators)
FutureLearn is a digital education platform that offers a wide range of short online courses from top universities and specialist organizations.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are now offering their “How to Teach Online: Providing Continuity for Students” for free. This is an intensive 3-week program with 2 hours of weekly study, and the goal is to help educators find practical ways “to teach and support students online.”
The course will cover topics, such as
- Getting started with remote teaching
- Preparing students for effective and successful online learning
- Tools for creating, sharing, and mixing plans for learning
- Bringing lessons learned into everyday practice
- Collecting and responding to student feedback
- Understanding the impact of online learning and teaching
This course is open to teachers, lecturers, and trainers who have to immediately move their teaching online in response to the current pandemic but want to do so in a way that minimizes disruptions and sets students up for success.
Coursera has become synonymous with free online courses. This online learning platform offers a massive list of courses from places such as Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Imperial College London, Google, IBM, and more than 190 other top institutions.
The “Learning to Teach Online” course is especially interesting to teachers and educators right now. It’s offered by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, and it covers things like:
- Why online teaching is important and what technologies you can use to start your online teaching career.
- The different online learning activities to incorporate into your teaching.
- Online resources and strategies, and more!
The course takes about six weeks to complete, provided that you spend three to four hours for it each week. Deadlines are flexible and you can submit all the coursework online. Teachers taking this online distance learning course boast incredible results:
- 47% of the learners have started a new career after completing the courses.
- 14% got a promotion or pay increase.
- 31% got a tangible career benefit from the courses.
This UNSW course is for all educators who want to better understand how to design a class to make better use of educational resources.
If you want to learn how to use your coursebook with online classes and get more ideas for using breakout rooms, then this webinar from The British Council is exactly for you.
Many teachers are unfamiliar with remote teaching due to little or the lack of experience.
The webinar Teaching Online – using your coursebook and ideas for breakout rooms will last approximately an hour, followed by an extended Q&A clinic.
Other webinars in the series also include:
- Teaching online – if the tech fails and structuring lessons
- Teaching online – tech tools and tutor’s role
Lindsay Clandfield, an award-winning writer, teacher, and teacher trainer, together with Carol Rainbow, an experienced online tutor for The Consultants-E will present the webinars.
University of California
The University of California offers a free online course that’s packed full of information on remote teaching. It’s called “Teaching Online” and was developed by their Department of Distance Learning.
The course gives a straightforward and practical overview of the best practices for teaching online:
- Comparing online and classroom-based learning
- Curating your online course
- Understanding seat time
- Sketching sample course plan
- Best practices for online facilitation
- Tips for engaging online students
This course is entirely free for all educators.
The European Multiple MOOC Aggregator (EMMA) created a free self-paced course that will introduce you to 21st century learning. This course has six lessons, which you can completed so long as you spend two to three hours per week.
The lessons are divided into units, which you can study for approximately 30 minutes.
Throughout the course, you will learn how to:
- Describe current learning resources, technologies, and practicies.
- Analyze your own learning practices.
- Use new practices into your own teaching methods.
Professionals, teachers, and educators are all invited to take the course. The course is presented by Prof. Dr. Grainne Conole, the Chair in Education at the University of Bath Spa (United Kingdom).
University of Minnesota
Teaching online comes with its own difficulties and problems, one of them being that most teachers don’t know how to access and use the tools that they need to be good at this whole distance learning thing.
The University of Minnesota is offering a helping hand to such teachers by providing a free course that’s basically an overview of online teaching tools and how to use them. Developed by their Information Technology department, this online course will turn even the most technologically challenged teachers into tech-savvy IT folk.
Expect to learn about academia-focused technology, such as Canvas, Google, MS Excel, WorkflowGen, and Zoom. We especially recommend Zoom Courses as Zoom is currently the preferred tool for online teaching – if you’re struggling with it, these courses will help you master it quickly.
The Open University offers free online learning to everyone. They give access to course materials and expert opinion on serious issues ー and all of that are FREE! If you want to learn about how you can take your teaching online, then OpenLearn always has something in store for you.
Take the “Take Your Teaching Online” course for free and really take your distance learning skills to a new level. The course is available even without a sign-up, and here are just a few of the things that you will learn:
- How teaching online is different
- The theories and principles for understanding digital tools
- What tools to look for and how to choose
- The benefits of support networks and how to grow them
- Navigating, using, and sharing educational materials online
- Give proper support to online learners
- Making changes in your teaching
- Evaluating and enhancing practices, and so much more!
You may download the course for offline use or for other devices. The course is downloadable in Word, PDF, EPUB, Kindle, RSS, and HTML formats.
After completing the courses, you will get a free statement of participation and earn a free Open University digital badge to display and share your achievement.
The Modern Classrooms Projects
Modern Classrooms have all the resources you need to build your modern classroom, that is, your online class. This platform offers one-to-one virtual coaching. You will receive CEUs (Continuing Education Unit), in-depth feedback, and three hours of personalized coaching, support, and follow up.
Modern Classrooms is a program for all teachers and educators, and participants are often an eclectic mix of kindergarten teachers and law professors. The basic version, which includes all Modern Classrooms curriculum and best practices, is free.
If you’re stuck when it comes to strategies that can help you move your teaching online, Cornell University’s programs can help you move past the confusion stage and get you straight into the super-teacher mode!
Their free webinars include lessons on:
- Strategies for moving online
- How to use Canvas
- Way to use Zoom for online teaching
- How to use Panopto for creating and sharing videos online
- Polling for online classes, and so much more!
The purpose of the webinars is to help you make the transition from face-to-face to online teaching as effectively and as smooth as possible. All sessions have been recorded, which everyone can access if they miss the scheduled meeting times.
AccessAlly is an education platform that sells online courses and memberships. To give people a taste of what they can offer, they have made some of their courses available on Youtube, which everyone can view for free.
In their video, How to Teach Online Classes, they shared the best-recommended tools out there. You will also find topics, such as:
- How to build an online course and membership site on WordPress
- Creating an online course using WordPress and AccessAlly
- How to track course progress in WordPress
- How to set up an opt-in quiz using AccessAlly Pro, and so much more!
AccessAlly has provided over 2.5 million training to end-users.
(HE) Designing and Teaching for Impact in Online Courses
(HE) Designing and Teaching for Impact in Online Courses is a self-paced course by Indiana University, and the best part is that it’s completely free! The course is for higher education and K12 instructors and instructional designers. In a nutshell, if you’re new to online teaching, this course is for you.
The online course has a total of 11 modules. A participant that completes six modules will receive an online teaching badge. If you manage to complete eight modules, you will get a badge for online course development – and you’ll have the skills for it, too.
The modules discuss different topics which include the learning outcomes, assessments, activities, and content. It also contains topics on online presence, course structure, usability, visual design, accessibility, multimedia, syllabi, and course management.
But what makes it one of the best online courses is that the course gives a comprehensive yet thorough explanation of the importance of the three types of online presences that online teachers can use in their teaching and course design.
Promising Practices in Online Teaching and Learning
Promising Practices in Online Teaching and Learning is one of the best self-paced and free online courses by OpenStax. OpenStax was founded by Dr. Richard Baraniuk in 1999 at Rice University with the aim of providing authors and learners an open space where they can share and adapt educational materials such as courses, books, and reports for free.
The course provides information on planning, designing, producing, and managing online instruction. It offers practical techniques for teaching and learning to you while you are gaining experience with Blackboard at the same time. The course has seven principles which are as follows:
- First Principle: Good Practice Encourages Student-Faculty Contact
- Second Principle: Good Practice Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students
- Third Principle: Good Practice Encourages Active Learning
- Fourth Principle: Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback
- Fifth Principle: Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task
- Sixth Principle: Good Practice Communicates High Expectations
- Seventh Principle: Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning
The biggest selling point of the course is that it gets you more in tune with your content and your students because you’re gaining valuable experience as both a student and a course producer.
Onlinecourses.com is a website that offers free online courses for teachers in different fields of specialization. It offers a collection of online tests, video lectures, and related course materials from prestigious universities all around the globe which is all geared towards the improvement of online teaching.
These are the subjects that you will find on their website:
- Computer Science
- Criminal Justice
- Information Technology
What makes the website different from others is that it is not intended to be a definitive, comprehensive, all-inclusive directory.
Instead, it was created to curate content from high-quality sources. All in all, the website offers 23 carefully-selected online courses that have been vetted by professional educators and earned top marks.
ReadWriteThink is an online resource that is ideal for language and arts teachers. It offers free online courses that will help you develop professionally even while you’re stuck at home and struggling to teach your classes online. The site offers a variety of tools, including podcasts, live chat, and classroom videos.
On offer are the following three categories of online courses:
- Online Learning Credit – offer options to assist participants in the online professional development programming of the website with earning credit toward their continuing education requirements
- Investigations – this offers a short, self-paced brief online professional learning on the teaching shifts needed to help students prepare for college and career-ready standards for learning
- Facilitated Online Courses – this is a guide on how participants will use classroom videos and professional texts to encourage collaboration on critical questions about school improvement and literacy learning
Sophia for Teachers
Sophia for Teachers offers free online courses with more than 20 online professional development classes in course design, instructional technology, and leading and collaborative coaching. The courses are free and help teachers hone their skills.
What is good about the online courses from this website is that they are all aligned to a master’s program. Furthermore, the courses provide the participants with competencies that they can immediately apply to their lessons.
The online professional development courses offered by Sophia for Teachers in cooperation with Capella University are as follows:
- 21st Century Instructional Practices
- Designing for the 21st Century Classroom
- Enhancing the Instruction with Technology
- Flipping Your Classroom
- Digital Citizenship
- Classroom Instruction Using an LMS
- Standards-Based Digital Instruction
- Personalized Instruction
- Personalized Learning Through Gaming
- Implementing Adaptive Learning
- Designing Instruction for Adaptive Learning
- Collaborative Learning Environments
- Understanding Competency-Based Instruction
- Understanding Competency-Based Curriculum
- One-To-Go Environment in Action
- Adult Learning Theory
- Instructional Coaching
- Teacher Evaluation and Assessment
- Professional Learning Communities
- Professional Development in Action
- Implementing Site-Based Initiatives
Talk2MeEnglish is an EFL website that offers free online courses for English Teachers. Developed by Emma Segev, an ESL teacher for more than a decade of experience in teaching English as a second language, this website is designed to encourage language learning in a creative and interesting environment, which makes lesson planning easier for teachers.
There are 3 online English courses offered which include Advanced Speaking Lessons, Business English Lessons, and General English/ Conversation English Lessons.
Aside from the courses offered, the website also offers videos and tutorials on how teachers can make the most out of their online teaching.
Teacher Training Courses
Teacher Training Courses is a vast repository of free online courses and MOOCs for teachers, with top universities and colleges contributing to the content. The online courses offered here vary, and range from Mathematics and Algebra to Humanities and Art – and everything in between.
As of writing, there are more than 30 teacher training courses available on the website. Most of these courses come with a recognized certificate, which means that they actually count toward something and you can list them in your resume.
One of the courses which you can find on the website is the “Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms” course. It explores key ideas of positive psychology and demonstrates how great teachers implement those lessons to get the most out of their students.
Through discussions, lectures, footage of great educators in action, and interviews, you will surely learn how to integrate character-based objectives into your own lesson.
Visual Design for Distance Education Content
Visual Design for Distance Education Content is a series of online courses that tackle distance education. These courses contain a lot of tips that you can use to help you create the navigation, layout, colors, and various other designs as they apply to your course content.
The course has a total of 6 modules which are the following:
1. How good design helps to learn.
2. Applying the concept of user-centered design to the navigation of your content.
3. Using color to enhance the readability of content.
4. Using text and layout to enhance the readability of your content.
5. Graphics and when not to use images.
6. Working within Blackboard.
What makes this course one of the top online courses is that you can take these mini-courses at your own pace. Plus, the course also provides examples, reading material, and external links to help you apply what you will learn in the entire course.
Foundations of Teaching for Learning: Introduction to Student Assessment
Foundations of Teaching for Learning: Introduction to Student Assessment is an online course from Commonwealth Education Trust via Coursera for free. The online course is for anyone who is teaching, or who would like to teach, in any subject and any context, anytime and anywhere.
The program has a total of 8 courses that will help you develop and strengthen your skills in teaching, professionalism, assessment, and more. Respected and established instructors from across the Commonwealth teach these dynamic lessons.
What is amazing about this online course is that you will not just develop and learn new skills. You will also strengthen your connections with colleagues around the world which is something that you shouldn’t miss!
This course will help you develop and use appropriate assessment procedures to properly assess the learning of your students.
FREE Distance Learning Course Bundle to Support Educators Impacted by COVID-19
In trying times like today, with the COVID-19 outbreak, the EdTech team came up with the FREE Distance Learning Course Bundle to Support Educators Impacted by COVID-19. So, if you are a teacher looking for an online course that can help you teach online and more, this one’s for you!
The course will help you to transition from traditional teaching to online teaching. It comes with innovative tools and actionable strategies that you can use to support your students learning at a distance.
This will help you walk through tangible steps, actionable strategies and simple tech how-to’s not only to help you ace teaching but thrive as an educator right now.
Teaching in conventional classrooms is no picnic but having to move everything online presents yet another layer of difficulties for teachers and educators.
And, while we’re certain that these free courses will help you hone your online teaching skills, we still want to encourage you to connect with others who are treading the very path you are on right now. By registering on All Digital School (and it’s completely free!), you get access to our community boards where you can ask questions, recommend courses and resources, and share your experiences with educators all over the world.
You can also create an account using Facebook or Google buttons below:
So go ahead, take some of these online teaching courses for a spin and then come back and let us know which ones have impressed you the most!