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Welcome! In this time of Coronavirus challenges I want the opportunity to share thoughts, ideas, and questions that I hope are helpful to all of those amazing educators that are doing so much for our students. While I know I may fall short in some ways, I do hope everyone can discover at least one idea that might help their school, parents and students as they take on this new challenge (opportunity) in learning. Please feel free to contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter at (@mjgormans). If anything, I have learned from experience and if I can help you at this time… please feel free to reach out. I would be happy to join you and your staff in a Web Meeting. I do hope you read, and please share with others through email and Tweets. It lets me know that I might be making a small difference. – Mike
In this series I would like to take the time to share some eLearning ideas and pose some questions as schools look at winding down this school year and begin to look at the next year. Some of the ideas I would like to bring out in this series include:
- Managing devices from school year end to start
- Data collection for planning
- PD for the next level of eLearning in a district (below)
- Planning Blended Learning for another year
- Short term and long term goals for Blended Learning
Please look for these topics in upcoming posts. If you have contributions to make or ideas to supply please email me at email@example.com, or send me a tweet at mjgormans . I am trying to build even more ideas to share with everyone! Let’s continue this series by looking at PD for your next level of eLearning in your district. I hope the information is helpful to you!
Coronavirus eLearning Series… Ideas To Think About Now… Before Next Year: Idea 3…PD For The Next Level of eLearning
As we finish this school year we must all take a moment to reflect on the learning outside of the classroom that took place during the Coronavirus. With the amount of time teachers had to prepare, most people have acknowledged that educators did a wonderful job. With summer time upon us, we have the unique opportunity to expand our eLearning skills and discover ways to make that line between the physical classroom and the online experience a bit more blurred. This is a goal that will continue to serve education for many years! As we do this, we need to first determine where our district, buildings, and educators are in their journey toward this new style of learning and the PD that is needed to support it. Let me provide some ideas to consider.
- Take a look at my last post on surveys for educators, students, and parents. It provides questions that might apply to the direction educators might take in their professional development pathway.
- Make a determination as to where the district and educators are in their e-Learning journey in your local school or district. Please take a look at the different steps I have provided below. Keep in mind that as educators, we are where we are! While the virus may have caused us to speed up our process, we still have to take this in steps. That is why we have a stairway to get to different levels in a building. Let’s take a look and try to determine where you, the school, or the district might be.
- Just beginning – Many schools had to start some type of e-Learning last year and they were just trying to make sure students could get online while retrieving, and handing in content. At this level there needs to be a determination of what type of delivery system will be used. It is always best for students, parents, and for PD if there is consistency in a school or district. It might be text messages or possible teacher web pages. Keep in mind some schools may have been using packets and are now trying to determine this step. The ultimate goal is to adopt a LMS (Learning Management System). Districts need to decide on that delivery system, and then decide what basic skills must be taught to teachers and also students.
- Beginning to learn an LMS – If teachers just learned that this stood for Learning Management System the district might be at step one. If an LMS is in use, perhaps many educators had just started learning how to create class content area for students and parents online. There must be a determination of where teachers are at, and what important attributes of the LMS must be taught. It is important to keep it simple at first and allow everyone to become comfortable. Leaders must find ways to use the LMS to conduct PD. If school starts with face to face instruction, encourage teachers to have in class practice days with students. It will be important to make this a summer and start of school year priority!
- Feeling comfortable with that LMS – Some schools may have teachers and students that were able to use their online portal to get through the year with a basic education emphasis. PD plans might call for an inventory of all the LMS capabilities. A list can be made in a priority order and training planned. Teachers should also be surveyed. The plan should be made to get the very most out of the features found in the LMS before bringing in other technology and tools. Keep in mind that eventually it will be important to go beyond the output by teachers and input by students. How can the LMS get learning beyond teacher presentation and student feedback? This idea of increased interaction must be brought into the PD.
- Going beyond the LMS – As teachers feel comfortable with the LMS it is time to investigate and incorporate other technology platforms that integrate with the LMS. This might be Google Meet, Zoom, Nearpod, or other tools that bring about more student interaction. When deciding on these resources educators should make sure the add on tools are not duplicating something already in the LMS. Also, make sure theses extras align with the District AUP (Acceptable Use Policy). Leadership must determine what outside the LMS tools must be implemented and what ones might be optional. This will be helpful in planning a PD timeline and a scaffold for teachers. The goal is to grow student interaction and engagement.
- Blending the learning – The teachers and students at this point are feeling comfortable with the LMS and many of those important related tools that increase interaction. Now it is important to think about getting rid of the barriers that exist between the physical and online classroom. How do we begin to structure PD that brings the real learning experiences to the online and blended world? This might include deeper learning, PBL, STEM, 4C’s, collaborative learning, visual thinking, meta-cognition, student ownership, Bloom’s upper levels, Makers, and student production as part of the learning experience. As a classroom gets to this level students can be in and out of school, and it really doesn’t matter. The physical place of learning along with the time it happens no longer is important. How might we begin to bring these ideas into professional development for the online experience, just as we have been doing in the physical classroom?
- Take a look at your district Learning Management System or lack of one. Determine those important next steps for both adopting the LMS and tools. Determine those PD steps as discussed in part 2.
- Consider blending the professional development experience. At what point do teachers need to be together and when can they learn online? What can be synchronous and what can be asynchronous? It is important to make the professional development experience a model for expectations in the classroom. How might the PD involve immersion in visible thinking, authentic collaboration, Blooms higher skills, and deeper learning? As this is done, it is important to be intentional and ask educators to reflect on their experience in this process as learners. It will give them insight into their students’ learning in the online world.
- Determine who owns the PD – A good friend of mine, Alan November, wrote a book entitled Who Owns the Learning? I like to take this idea a step further and ask, Who Owns the Professional Development? Our districts and schools are filled with so many talented educators. The district teachers can own the PD and share their diverse set of skills. Keep in mind that technology is just part of the picture. One of my favorite PD Models is the TPACK Model. Read about it and discover how teachers with the different strengths of pedagogy, content, and technology can work together to support each other in PD. Teacher ownership, like student ownership, is very important.
Check out these 10 resources to learn more:
Online Learning Consortium – This is a great resource for those teachers moving to that online experience.
SEDTA Connects – Check out the links from this e-Learning coalition.
Indiana Remote Learning Resources – From my home state DOE you will find a wonderful collection of e-learning resources.
T.H.E Journal – Spend some time browsing the possibilities that might be part of a great e-learning program.
ISTE Summer e-Learning Academy – This should provide a wonderful opportunity to learn more about online teaching from an organization that has been doing it for decades. It lasts a week, it virtual, and the cost is twenty bucks for members.
Edutopia Online learning – Explore this amazing site to discover virtual classrooms and schools, or ways to expand learning beyond the walls of any classroom.
Common Sense Education – Great free PD resources for digital citizenship and online learning for all educators.
PBS Teacher Line – This is always a trusted resource for free teacher PD ideas. Enjoy the many ideas and resources!
EdWeb – Check out these amazing articles and resources that will fit into wonderful learning opportunities for teachers and students.
Tech and Learning Magazine e-Learning Resources – Since I am an advisor for the magazine I thought I would include this list of abundant resources. Some had been, and still maybe available for free. Either way it is a great list to help you understand what is out there to support eLearning.
Now is the perfect time to reflect on the PD needed to even better serve your students. As you grow your district, school, and classroom eLearning PD, a culture of blended learning will continue to engage learner and educators long after the virus is gone. It is an investment in time, energy, and resources well spent! As I have previously stated, our schools have done an amazing job navigating these uncharted waters. Schools have reacted in a way that has been beneficial to students. As we continue this journey and finally find sometime to breathe, we must also be proactive in our planning. This really does start with asking, listening, and reflecting! I do hope some of the ideas I present on eLearning and professional development are helpful as you continue to build, facilitate, and improve eLearning for all students.
Think of this new reality, as a pilot, and know that educators, students, and parents will make adjustments on this journey. Please feel free to contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter at (@mjgormans). If anything, I have learned from experience and if I can help you at this time… please feel free to reach out. I would be happy to join you and your staff in a Web Meeting. I do hope you read, and please share with others through email and Tweets. It lets me know that I might be making a small difference. It is important that we document the process so we can learn and plan from it. Thanks for joining me and please feel free to check with me on questions you might have involving lessons that I have learned. Best of all… remember that spring will be here soon! – Mike