Why I chose this:
Since Professional Development is a large part of what education co-ops do, it is important to understand new, different, and possibly better, ways to provide the training our teachers need.
What I learned/Am learning:
State Virtual School Alliance - States share info and PD among a group of states. Help eliminate redundancy.
- Collaboration - Shared leadership model, though one person organizes the event(s).
- Share resources - Allows for a more robust PD offering, especially on a limited scale of personnel.
- Innovation - Failure is part of the process. Latch on to the bright spots to forward innovation.
History of Online Collaboration
- 2-day synchronous (like a face-to-face conference, breakouts, etc)
- Wikispaces Page
- Collaborate (Kickoff)
The second format allowed for deeper content. Each piece was about 5 hours. Teachers could take time to complete each module - 3 weeks per module.
Not enough structure in Edmodo for what they were trying to do.
Concepts broken into 2-week modules. Each 'presenter' would moderate his/her module. History kept after the fact. During the window, encourage collaboration, discussion, answering questions, etc. After the fact, people could ask questions, but no guarantee of answers.
- Google Docs for Collab planning
- Drop box for shared final product (share the raw content)
- Edmodo for assessments
What didn't work
- Edmodo - Ups: Free, No ads, Basic LMS; Downs: Teachers used to bigger systems were confused by the simplistic interface, Discussion lacked robust functionality, Confusing layout for complex lessons or concept objects; Had to create materials to show hot to log in, where to do, etc; Used Google Form for evaluation - teachers did not like Edmodo (not orderly process)
- Engagement - When given for credit, must show teacher was engaged. Discussions placed in many modules. Some teachers threw up roadblocks: goes against what they believed, they were already doing things being asked, "kind of trolling." They had "keyboard courage" - more vocal behind the keys than face-to-face. Need to set up expectations: etiquette, moderate content, challenge non-participating teachers, (basically the same things you do when facilitating an online course, which is basically what these are).
Advantage to online PD - repurpose the content for targeted PD in a different scenario or for new teachers, etc.
This year, use a full-fledged LMS, maybe. Looking into WordPress plugins to add LMS features (BadgeOS, LearnDash $100). Possibly use Google Hangout and YouTube Live for moderated live events. Or have a twitter hashtag that is moderated for questions.
You have to make the promise to evolve over time - adapt to the learners.
Some of my thoughts:
Several entities talked about not having manpower/resources for summer PD before this program implemented. In Arkansas, this is exactly why Co-ops are there. Additionally, if we can create a collaborative online PD, we might be able help our schools with their PD. The program presented basically applies to online-only schools/state virtual schools/programs, at least at this point.