Online Learning to Support Educator Professional Development Barbara Treacy i3 Grantees Meeting October 15, 2012
Questions • What are the advantages/challenges of online PD? • What have we learned about making online PD effective? What are some examples? • How do we build effective online PD, learning communities and coaching models? How do we keep it dynamic and engaging? • How do we prepare teachers to facilitate and design online PD? • What technologies should we use?
Flexibility: Anytime, anyplace learning Access: To experts and resources that may not be available locally Reflection and deeper learning: Educators participate and interact with colleagues on their own schedules Personalization: Custom paths for a variety of goals Cost-effectiveness: Eliminates travel/related costs Extended learning over time: Opportunities for educators to try things out in classrooms with feedback Scalability and sustainability: Capacity-building approaches work Assessment: Increased access to learner data Online Learning Opportunities
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” -Alvin Toffler
What’s Different about Online Learning? • Content: Different structure of content • Technology: Increasing choice of tools; some will disappear quickly and technical issues can occur regularly • Accessibility: Online learning increases access but access and accessibility issues must be addressed • Social dynamic: Different interaction methods & pacing; new strategies needed to address cohort & individual needs • Discussion: Specific facilitation strategies needed; importance of written communication and “online voice” • Assessment: New tools available but new strategies needed • Facilitation and design: Labor intensive activities!
More on Accessibility Needs • Video and audio: requires captioning, transcripts, ability to pace to be fully accessible • Multi-media requirements not activated in schools • Image descriptions needed for webpages/documents • PDF’s not accessible to many screen readers; must create word or other accessible versions of documents • CMS’s are generally designed to address accessibility but won’t insure uploaded content is accessible For more info and to test accessibility of a webpage: http://webaim.org
Example Program: E-Learning for Educators Goal: build state online teacher PD programs focused on content, pedagogy, student learning • 10 state consortium: AL, DE, KY, MD, MO, MS, NC, NH, PA, WV • Funded in 2005 by USED • Capacity building approach: EDC online facilitator & course developer training for all states • Few face-to-face meetings; virtual learning community anchored whole program • Large-scale experimental research showed significant impact on teachers and students
Impact: Ability to Scale • 10 state programs aligned to unique state goals • 500+ workshop facilitators trained • 2000+ workshops delivered • 25,000+ participants completed workshops • 450+ course developers trained • 91% teachers rated workshops excellent/very good • 98% teachers agreed/strongly agreed courses aligned with their school’s PD goals • 96% facilitators rated training excellent /very good
Created and facilitated by DE educators trained to design and deliver online PD Developed to provide convenient, high quality PD for 7th grade teachers assigned to teach Delaware Watersheds, an integrated Earth Science course taught across the state State Example: DE Science Course“Delaware Watersheds”
Research Study • Goal: examine the effect of online PD on teacher knowledge, practices, and student learning • Conducted by: Boston College • Included: 4 large-scale randomized experiments using 3 workshops designed by EDC for teachers in: • English/Language Arts (4th and 8th Grades) • Math (5th and 7th Grades) • Participation: 369 Teachers; 21,000 Students • Results: Significant impact on teachers and students across subjects/grades
Online PD Lessons and Challenges • Facilitators need training, incentives & time • Content development is labor intensive & requires training • Multi-media can be costly; little research on cost benefits, especially video • Marketing strategy needed to generate teacher enrollment • Content must be dynamic; requires updating • Credit or incentives for participants boosts participation • Course management system is needed; requires investment • Need for registration systems as program grows • Important to integrate with other initiatives/programs • Sustainability requires attention to cost structures/fees
Key Lesson: Importance of Learning Community Models “Learning is social, and we will all get better at our projects and at learning from each other by social learning together.” -John Seely Brown, USC and Deloitte Center for the Edge How do we keep online learning dynamic and engaging?
Ten Tips for Effective Online Facilitation 1. Make everyone feel welcome & heard; create a comfortable environment 2. Establish clear goals & expectations at the outset 3. Provide behind-the-scenes support via email 4. Foster communication between participants 5. Model participation & discussion techniques for participants 6. Keep the discussion alive; prevent stagnancy 7. Keep the discussion on-topic 8. Guide participants through the curriculum 9. Make sure the audience & the content are in sync 10. Bring closure to each topic before moving on http://courses.edtechleaders.org/documents/opd/ETLO_Ten_Tips.htm
Technology Considerations • Focus on the learning goals! • More choices than ever now; multiple ways to meet goals • Hardware is cheaper, more ubiquitous, more mobile • Explosion of Web 2.0/apps: easy to use but hard to use well • Increased access to broadband – but still need to design for all access levels • Multi-media development is costly, and so are the updates • Facilitator training: more important than “tool” training “A focus on expanding access to new technologies carries us only so far if we do not also foster the skills and cultural knowledge necessary to deploy those tools toward our own ends.” -Henry Jenkins, USC
Choosing Technology Tools • Course Management Systems • Integrate content, discussion, assessment, data collection, users, social media • Support courses, coaching and more • Social Media • Supports formal/informal learning; courses and coaching • Varied uses/user roles: creation, lurking, sharing, collaboration, communication • Synchronous/asynchronous options • Examples: blogs, wikis, micro-blogging, social networking, virtual meetings, content sharing, Google Apps, etc.
Recap: Key Lessons • Online learning is different; requires careful attention to goals, planning, training, design, technology tools and implementation • Online PD can improve educator practice and student learning • Online learning community models foster reflection and inquiry based approaches with careful facilitation • Learning goals must lead; technology supports • Technology and online learning can enable scale • Online learning is not a simple solution: can be effective but requires time and resources
“If we want our students to succeed in a global environment, then we, as educators, must be engaged in 21st century content, context, tools, thinking skills and assessment. Thanks to online learning I am a 21st century life-long learner!” -JoAnn Nuzum, WV online facilitator and developer The power of connected learning
Thank you! Barbara Treacy EdTech Leaders Online http://edtechleaders.org Education Development Center http://edc.org