Connecting Educators Around the World: An International School Teacher Recommends Learning Online with Primary Source

14 September 2012

Curious about what it's like to take an online course with Primary Source? In light of our upcoming online courses, we thought we'd share one teacher's experience taking our Changing China: History and Culture Since 1644 online course.

View our upcoming course offerings, including our China courses and new courses on Japan, Global Understanding, and Atlantic Slavery.

TeacherRich Melamed is the head of the Humanities Department at Concordian International School in Samut Prakarn, Thailand, where he teaches middle school humanities and IB history. A past participant in Primary Source's Changing China: History and Culture Since 1644 online course, he shares his perspective on taking the course as a teacher at an international school.

Primary Source: What were the highlights of the online course for you?

Rich Melamed: I really thought the resources presented and the lively discussion each week were the two biggest highlights. I chose to take this course as a way to help my understanding of the content, and I found the content to be very strong. I loved the spirited discussion amongst members of the cohort. As the responses to the online discussion would start to trickle in, it would get better and better. It was a very real experience. It made me understand how online learning can work so effectively.

PS: How have your students benefited from this course?

Rich: I think my entire attitude towards online learning has changed. It was my first online course and I didn't realize that you can learn a great deal from your classmates in an online setting.

My students have definitely benefited from my improved content knowledge from my participation in the course. I teach middle school humanities and IB History for eleventh grade. I am actively using a lot of what I learned from the course for IB History, and my understanding of the content has enabled me to provide the necessary context to their readings.

I am also starting to use Primary Source's free online resource guides and curriculum. It is excellent to know that I have an entire library of online sources that matches key parts of my curriculum.

PS: Why would an international school teacher benefit from taking a Primary Source online course about China?

Rich: I would highly recommend the Changing China online course for any international educator who spends any time teaching about modern China. I now understand more about modern China and have gained insight into how to teach about this in the classroom.

International school teachers throughout the world can learn a great deal from an online course when many of the participants reside in the United States. As an American citizen overseas, I think it is always beneficial to keep in touch with fellow American educators back home. It is good to keep up with issues that American teachers deal with. For example, one of our weekly discussions was centered on the concept of nationalism. Clearly, this word takes on very different meanings depending upon where you are teaching and living.

The course was also very convenient. This is an important motivator for anyone who takes an online course, though particularly for those of us who are not physically in the United States. While professional development certainly exists in Asia, it is often limited in scope. It is great to know that I can access such a wonderful professional development opportunity, regardless of where I am living and teaching, and I plan on signing up for another online course when I have the time.



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