Tech Favorites: Professional Development
Five district leaders review the best new professional development programs.
Reviewer: Dr. Felicia Fowler
Instructional Technology Coordinator, Memphis City Schools , TN
Challenge: We needed something that could be used by over 7,000 teachers across the curriculum.
Response: Discovery Education allows for face-to-face professional development and online support in the form of discussion forums and webinars. Teachers have expanded technology use in their classrooms.
Lesson Learned: The professional development support has helped to increase the capacity of our teachers to integrate technology.
Ease of Use: Extremely easy! Teachers can download videos to their desktop or stream it live.
Appeal: The videos provide visual context for what students are learning, which gives more meaning to instruction and exposes students to events, people and cultures around the world, and experts in the field.
Final Word: Allows collaboration of teachers worldwide and provides a forum for networking and sharing ideas. We are implementing a Technology Exemplar initiative.
Reviewer: Jhoni Ebert
Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Professional Development, Clark County School District, Las Vegas, NV Challenge: We introduced PBS TeacherLine in 2001. As the fifth-largest district in the nation, sheer distance between schools meant we needed to look at online professional development options.
Response: We found TeacherLine to be very user-friendly. It was such a smooth, quick interface and did everything we wanted it to do.
Lesson Learned: Adding graduate-level credit for TeacherLine has increased the appeal and also the cost to the participant.
Ease of Use: We have fine-tuned the enrollment, orientation, and fee processes over time.
Appeal: We’ve heard that teachers appreciate having 24/7 access. And the large number of course offerings provides plenty of choice in every area of the curriculum.
Final Word: TeacherLine aligns our district’s needs and initiatives, as well as offering the rigor that will challenge and inspire teachers.
Reviewer: Mary Connery
Network Director of Staff Development, Fairport Central School District , Fairport, NY
Challenge: We wanted quality professional development—the ability to expose our staff to international and national experts on-demand.
Response: We are beginning to see principals lead discussions with this product. It allows our smaller learning communities and groups to take advantage of a useful reference and discussion tool.
Lesson Learned: It supplements our other efforts and is available anywhere and at any time.
Ease of Use: School Improvement Network’s PD 360 is simple to use.
Appeal: It’s individual-based. Their experts are people that teachers are always reading about. Real classroom examples are shown, using real teachers and administrators.
Final Word: It supports the learner who wants to follow up on references. It allows the administrator to look at a library, and then send out a clip for others to preview independently. Administrators are integral to implementation.
Reviewer: Obe Hostetter
Instructional Technology Teacher, Rockingham County Schools , Rockingham County, VA
Challenge: We wanted to be able to share interactive whiteboard tips, troubleshooting, and Notebook
lessons, and have staff create interactive classroom lessons.
Response: As a result of joining the SMART Exchange, we’ve connected with other SMARTBoard users through e-mail and conferences.
Lesson Learned: Teachers can share and download lessons, and technicians looking for troubleshooting ideas can find help from peers on how to solve problems, or how to use software and resources with staff.
It is creating a personal learning network for educators.
Ease of Use: I think the SMART Exchange is easy to use because it is searchable, has RSS feeds, and is organized by topic.
Final Word: It’s an excellent way to find answers and resources, as well as solve the problems of other users. I have personally shared technology integration tips with others there.