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Friday, February 26, 2010

90-Day Plan for Online Professional Development in our district, would love purposeful feedback

Published Version of This Document can be found here

Online Professional Development 90-day (three phase) Plan
 implementation, design and vision of online program
It is our vision in creating a 30, 60, 90 day plan, that our focus for online professional development will be more clear and accountable. As is the case with any vision or mission plan, we reserve the right to modify, adapt, and adjust as necessary depending upon needs and technical specifications. The first thirty days of the plan will be primarily to establish needs, scalability, and possibilities of all of the ideals. The next thirty days it is my belief that this time will be spent tweaking and preparing the environment for mass use and application. The final 30 days of the plan will be setting up and scaffolding the various departments and pieces into the environment. This plan will fall in line with the vision, standards, and expectations set forth by the Professional Development Department and Denver Public Schools.
"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." -Oscar Wilde
 The first couple of weeks meeting as many people as possible in DPS is the priority; I want to know what the needs and wants are for everyone involved in professional development at some level, which means EVERYONE, right? It is important to understand the inner workings of an organization as well, so this will also be a focus. The last thing I want to do is step on toes, ruffle feathers, or dismiss the thinking and ideas of anyone in the organization. It is imperative that I meet with and talk with the folks at DoTS, and those who are already implementing the Moodle platform for some sort of trainings. Right away, it has become clear that there are going to be "front-end" users that are ready to get started. The Lead Mentor, Student Services, and PBS groups are included in this beginning push for sure.
                Setting up the protocol for course requests, and resource sharing within the LMS will also be a priority the first 30 days. What this looks like will probably resemble current organizational structures i.e. HEAT tickets, Help Desk, etc. What would be the easiest and most productive way of doing this, Email, Moodle forms, or other?
                Course design and style guides will need to be established and set up. There will be a committee pulled together that will meet to determine what this will look like. Communications, professional development, IT, and an instructional representative will meet.
                Finding the ways to connect to the new standards work is a priority as well. The question here is how to use online and virtual networking spaces to support analysis of the new standards around professional development and teaching in general. Set up the meetings and get dates on the calendars to learn as much about this as possible beginning in week two.
                Sharing resources and tapping into existing communities is important. Define the methods for delivering outsourced opportunities via webinars, chats, and more. Where are the communities that teachers could join and engage in discussions around classroom practice, making these available and visible will be valuable to the teachers in the field. Looking to incorporate Google Sites, not as an APPS product, but just from the public Google; this would give us spaces to share videos, links, and create discussion boards with active RSS feed capabilities. We will set up an account specifically for use by the core team in professional development. This account will be the "base" for any forms/surveys, websites, documents and presentations created for our own use.
Beginning the discussions around logistics and architectures are a priority for our work. This of course leads to the discussions around support and administration of the environment. Beginning these talks now will save us from playing catch up at a later date. How will we support the users, the LMS itself, and the content specialists? Determining what the servers will look like, how we will host the Learning Management System and what that looks like are needed before any "real" work can take place.
"Have a bias toward action - let's see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away." -Indira Gandhi
The sixty-day plan or the next 30 days are about action and next steps. After laying down the framework for our work and vision, it will be equally important to start putting some action alongside the words. This will be the primary focus of the next 30 days.
Building Shells will be a primary focus and push for the next phase of development and implementation. What will the course shell look like? What will the Professional Learning Community (PLC) space and shell look like Pulling in resources, and seeing what others have done with these spaces, will be vital to development. Finding the people to ask the big questions and lean on their experience is a task that will behoove us in the long run. This is the value in a community, repeating what has been successful and avoiding or tweaking what was not. Initial ideas around what will be included and how this looks are that we need to include; calendars (Google), resources or links, and forums for discussions to be launched and grow.
The structure of how this looks will be developed and more clearly defined in the coming weeks, but initially, the idea is to create spaces organized by content, grade level, school, and articulation areas. Things that we want to be sure to include in the PLC's are: lesson plans, discussion boards, pod/vodcasts, videos of teachers in action, and a place to share successes and failures. One important facet of the design is what will the launch page look like that gives teachers access to the PLC's course offerings, and department resources?
It will be extremely important in this phase and the one that follows it to get teachers that are looking to be e-pioneers in the field and front end users of the space. We need them to create, share, and push the value of the spaces being built and created. Communicating this to the field will be a large task that will play out in the final days of this phase. What this looks like is up in the air, but in order for the Big Picture ideas to be implemented in the final 30 days of the 90-day plan, teacher buy-in will be of paramount importance.
"Action is the foundational key to all success." -Pablo Picasso
    Phase three of the 90-day plan will be putting the action and planning to work. The goal all along is to create an environment that is sustainable, viable, relevant, and useful. If these steps that we have taken up to know have bore any fruit this will be the exciting next piece of the pie.
    Courses and trainings will be offered throughout the summer for any content specialists to dive in and create space for their cohorts and subjects. If this means a space where webinars and video recordings are available then that will be their space. If they are looking for a more concrete way of delivering their content whether that is in a self-paced environment or facilitated, the space will be theirs for the using. It will be useful if we can have the initial offerings available as examples and models for the next wave of users.
    Accountability and relevance is a necessary piece for online professional development. Ina Pro-Comp environment the trainings values to the teachers are measured in PDUs. This will be extremely important to have established before going in too deeply into the development and design of online professional development. Ideally, we would like to offer multiple forms of "credit' one of these is of course PDUs, but Graduate credit, certification hours and other creative forms of measuring development will be in place during this phase.
    Long term the idea is empowering content specialist to get their trainings in an online format. We will place an emphasis on tapping into our greatest resource, which are the teachers in the field and the education community at large. We can incorporate video conferencing, webinars and more. These phases will be the foundational blueprint for online professional development in Denver Public Schools. Building and sharing these plans are designed to model the open and collaborative philosophy that the program will embody long term.
Michael Wacker
Online Professional Development Coordinator

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