List of Free Online Courses in Education Leadership

See our list of the top free online education leadership courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that's right for you.

Free Online Course Info

Free online resources are available to educational leaders and to people interested in pursuing a career in school administration. The learning materials described here include videos and podcasts in which learners may receive insights from professionals in school administration, mostly in K-12 education but also at the university level; some materials are from actual education leadership courses. Generally, these free courses and materials don't provide the opportunity to earn college credit.

Annenberg Learner

Annenberg Learner offers a variety of free multimedia resources for learning and teaching. Principles for Principals is a series of professional growth workshops intended for K-12 principals. Topics include changing classroom learning strategies and school reform. The hosts and panelists in the video workshops include principals, teachers and education consultants. Supplementary readings are available as PDF documents. Learners may pursue the option to earn graduate credit through the Division of Continuing Education at Colorado State University. This involves paying tuition and fees, registering and completing additional assignments.

Intel Teach Elements

Intel provides free professional development courses for teachers and administrators on a variety of teaching and learning strategies, many of which incorporate digital tools. Educational Leadership in the 21st Century is a video-based course consisting of four modules, each of which contains four lessons. The course centers on the use of technology: how to integrate technology into the classroom and how to use software and the Internet to promote professional collaboration. Learners can locate the course by scrolling down the page.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Through MIT's OpenCourseWare, learners can access course materials on topics of concern to prospective and acting school leaders. Originally offered to undergraduate and graduate students, Economics of Education takes a broad look at the economic aspects of education in the U.S., using both econometrics and economic theory. Topics include school reform, early childhood education, teacher training and education as investment. Links to some of the course readings are provided. Additional course materials include lecture notes, assignments and exams.

Technological Tools for School Reform uses a case-study approach to review school reform ideas. The course also includes a review of innovative learning strategies and concludes with ideas on how to adapt successful reforms to different schools. Some course readings are available through online links. Lecture notes and sample student projects are also provided on the course webpage.

District Leader's Podcast

The District Leader's Podcast comes from McGraw Hill Education's Urban Advisory Resource, which is composed of education leaders and experts with extensive experience in large districts. Podcasts from this resource are organized into six general topics, including improving student performance, urban education and leadership. The podcasts listed here provide a sample of the topics covered in podcast interviews with school district leaders.

Handling H1N1: With Your Community, the Media and Social Media features an interview with the superintendent of a New York school district, Neil Rochelle. He discusses responses and strategies of education leaders to public health threats, such as the H1N1 in 2009. Topics addressed include managing social media and dealing with the health department; Rochelle also describes his efforts to sort out differing expert opinions. Learners can view the community letter and newsletter Mr. Rochelle wrote in addition to the H1N1 website he created.

Superintendent of a Rhode Island school district, Thomas Brady discusses the personal experiences that shape leadership style in Leading a School Community to Success Through Change. In this interview, Brady recounts some of the challenges he has faced in his public education career. In The School Board's Role in Decision Making: Insights from the President, Ohio school board president Elaine Cooper Reed discusses how school boards respond to budget cuts.

Open University

The Open University, based in the United Kingdom, offers free online course materials from several of its distance education courses through OpenLearn. Leadership and Context is a unit adapted from a master's-level course that examines education leadership ideas in a variety of contexts and cultures. Through case studies, the text-based lessons look at how broad trends, community perceptions and organizational cultures affect schools. Activities and videos supplement the topic discussions.

University of California - Berkeley

Since 1982, the University of California at Berkeley's television broadcast Conversations with History has featured interviews with leading thinkers in several disciplines, including politics, technology and higher education. The videos are accessible through iTunes, YouTube and University of California Television. Transcripts of the interviews are also available. The videos described here are a sample of the interviews about higher education offered in this series.

Adaptation and Change in the American University features an interview with former Cornell University president Frank Rhodes concerning the privileges and challenges of leadership at an Ivy League institution. James Wright, president emeritus and professor of history at Dartmouth, is interviewed in American Democracy, Veterans and Higher Education. Topics include economic challenges faced in higher education as well as Wright's efforts to improve access to higher education to veterans of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Leadership in Higher Education, former University of Chicago president Hanna Holborn Gray discusses the background and values that aided her as she faced challenges as a woman university president in the 1970s. She also addresses equality, globalization and financing in higher education.

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