Tag Archives forchallenging traditional pd

Part 5: Logistics + Resources

We are back once again to provide you tips on addressing the six challenges to a successful Google PD initiative. Today we are sharing what we’ve learned about challenge #5, logistics & limited resources.  

So, why logistics (a word more commonly heard in UPS commercials)?  🙂  

Well, since logistics involves a coordination of an operation involving many people and facilities, it makes sense when talking about traditional PD delivery, right? We have heard from countless instructional leaders that the task of training teachers spread out over many school buildings can be daunting. The combination of multiple physical locations and the distance between them increases the difficulty of facilitating sustainable training.

On top of this, in many schools and districts, there is typically a small number of dedicated resources for training.  This varies by district, but we see that the number of instructional resources relative to the number of teachers is very rarely a ratio that enables the easy facilitation of PD for technology like Google.  Finally, there is very little visibility that instructional leaders can tap into regarding how well teachers are doing after traditional PD offered. Do they need more help? Are they superstars who need a greater challenge?  Either way, teachers (like students!) need different levels and training and varied content that meets their skills level and learning goals, and instructional leaders need accurate visibility into teacher progress.   

As we’ve seen before in previous videos, MobileMind is cloud based, accessible by a Chrome Extension.  Anytime, Anywhere access to learning removes the physical barriers of training. And, while the value of face to face learning has undisputed merits, one off trainings are problematic when trying to provide  teachers up to date PD on rapidly changing technology like Google.  

At MobileMind we offer virtual personalized PD, so we can establish multiple schools or groups who can learn anytime and anywhere… during planning when they find 10 minutes or in their PJs at home... whenever works best for each individual teacher!  

What’s more is that district or school leaders have a birds eye view of teacher progress in MobileMind and how many teachers at each school are engaging in PD.  They can even drill down into any group to see how active each teacher is at a particular school have been in MobileMind.

Not only does this provide visibility for accountability, but leaders also can gain insights into training needs, teacher interest, struggling teachers, or previously unidentified teacher leaders. We can build up those teacher rockstars and begin to accelerate adoption and build internal capacity much more rapidly.

MobileMind’s cloud based, location management gives us the ability to facilitate sustainable and effective PD at scale, regardless of logistical challenges, while expanding the reach of instructional resources and providing actionable insights to assist teacher progress. Stay tuned for next week’s final tip on overcoming prohibitive costs of PD.  Until then! 🙂

Part 4: Time

We are thrilled to be back with a brief (how appropriate!) post about our next PD challenge: Time!  Or, perhaps more accurately, the lack of it… 🙂

There are a few challenging elements when it comes to the issue of time and facilitating effective PD.  

First, we struggle to find time to offer effective teacher training during the school day, week, and even the school year.  Not only does it consume quite a bit of time for the preparation itself, but you often have to remove teachers from classroom instruction and get subs - or have them dig into their own time for off-contract or after-hours PD.

Second, we must consider new information we now have regarding the impact of time in relation to actual learning.  What do I mean by that? Studies have shown  that our attention span has declined significantly and steadily since the year 2000, or since the internet and  digital tools really started to become mainstream. Several resources report these days that our attention span is actually less than that of a  goldfish. As educators ourselves, we’ve sat through hour-long and sometimes even day-long PD sessions that failed to meet our needs. It is truly easy to become very resentful when you feel that your time is not valued; we have felt this and have found through a great deal of research that we are not alone!  It is imperative that we acknowledge how much teachers already have on their plates, and then  act accordingly when designing educator training.

So, how has our team at MobileMind addressed the challenge of time?

At MobileMind we embrace micro-learning  and personalization. We have created what we call “micro-courses”, which are  comprised of very brief learning videos (never longer than 5 minutes!) supported by short, hands-on learning challenges.  In addition, the ability for a teacher to personalize his or her learning experience makes the learning process more efficient than one-size-fits-all training's that might not make the best use of educators’ valuable time.

Teachers can begin learning at the click of a (Chrome extension) button. They can filter their personal micro-course library by their own learning goals.  They can stop and then continue learning at any time to fit their busy schedules. Finally, they receive human feedback for each challenge submission, which further demonstrates how much we value each learner’s time and energy.  Within seconds, a teacher can click to begin learning something new… no subs needed, no more dreaded after-school training's, no more time wasted.

Stay tuned for our next blog post when we discuss the issue of planning + logistics with limited resources!

Part 3: Sustainability

In this post, we want to briefly discuss our third PD challenge - sustainability of professional development.  

The pace of change in educational technology can make it seem nearly impossible for teachers and edtech leaders to stay current on updates and new features.  Consider the constant evolution of Google tools, for example. With frequent updates to key Google tools, such as Google Drive and Classroom, there are simply not enough traditional training days to keep educators abreast of this dynamic suite of tools.

Many districts provided Google Classroom training during preplanning, for instance, only to watch Classroom undergo some pretty significant updates a month or so later.  We’ve also seen schools receive Chromebooks or launch G Suite in August or September, hoping that they can start using the tools before their first dedicated PD day a month or two later.  When we rely only on face-to-face training, we are at the mercy of the district schedule, and it might be weeks or even months before teachers can receive initial training or refresh training on tools they’re expected to be using in the classroom

This helps explain the major shift to the concept of “always on”, continuous learning. Educators need to have access to PD that they can hop into at anytime and from anywhere.  In addition, they need to up-to-date training on the tools they’re expected to be using on a regular basis. This means offering job-embedded, on-demand PD to our extremely busy educators that is regularly updated.

When developing the MobileMind professional learning hub, we kept in mind the need to be able to update our content quickly based on the fact that technology is constantly evolving. So, it is our job is to stay current with Google and share updates with educators so you don’t have to.  Because we embrace a micro-learning methodology, we can shift very quickly when Google updates or changes a G Suite tool, meaning we can update a course quickly for our teachers. 

Lastly, because we have made MobileMind easily accessible and available anytime, we are accomplishing our goal of facilitating meaningful job-embedded learning that is accommodating to teachers.  Our data of MobileMind average daily access times over the last couple of months suggests that the highest volume of teacher access occurs during school hours. This means that our google PD is valuable enough and time conscious enough that teachers are choosing the right time and place to learn for them, individually.  This can often also mean that they don’t have to learn after school hours following a long day of teaching. (We have facilitated quite a bit of after-school PD, and we all know that it is less than ideal!)☺️

We know that educators have so much on their plates, so to have anytime, anywhere access to sustained training at the click of a button is definitely a win!  In our next post, we’ll discuss the challenge of time when it comes to educator training.

Part 2: Personalization

We often discuss personalizing the learning experience for students, but traditional professional development typically fails to personalize professional development for our educators. Honestly, if you aren’t differentiating technology PD at scale for all your teachers, it’s a problem.

Teachers have told us countless times that a “one-size fits all” approach to technology training just doesn’t work, and research has revealed this issue repeatedly when it comes to traditional PD offerings.  If we train all teachers, leaders, and staff on the same content and in the same manner, we are marginalizing the majority of our adult learners and losing their interest from the very start, leading to failed technology adoption.  

If we want teacher buy-in, as discussed in our previous blog post, it is crucial that we provide differentiated learning experiences for teachers, just as we strive to do for our students.  So how do you effectively offer targeted technology PD based on varying proficiency levels? We can share how we tackle the PD buy-in hurdle by personalizing the learning experience for our schools.

First, every single MobileMind micro-course is differentiated between beginner, intermediate and 

advanced.  Most of the time teachers will fall into one of these three groups.  So, it is very easy for a teacher to start learning based on their relative knowledge of a Google tool.  Educators have the ability to rate their skill levels across Google tools, and their micro-course library will be tailored to meet their needs.  

Additionally, we have certification pathways that are also segmented based on proficiency.  For example, a brand new user to Google may need to complete some early foundational elements before they even think about things like Google Certification levels.  They could start with our G Suite Basics track. You may also have a veteran Google user wishing to earn Google Educator certification - or even Google Trainer certification.  We can help with that as well! We empower educators to choose their own learning pathways based on their knowledge and skills, as well as their professional goals.  

Finally, we even offer micro-courses specific to leaders and staff.  It’s great for an instructional leader to know what to look for in the classroom, for instance, but how can leaders leverage Google tools to improve school culture and productivity?  We’ve got you covered there, too!

Stay tuned for our next post where we’ll discuss the challenge of sustainability.

Part 1: Buy-in from educators

In our 6 part blog series we look at the biggest challenges of Traditional Professional Development in schools. In part 1 we look at the buy-in from educators. How do you get your teachers included in the buying process and buying into any EdTech product?

In the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation study Teachers Know Best, teachers report wanting professional development that is relevant, sustained, interactive, and teacher-driven.  They want to be respected as professionals. Understandably, teachers wish for their knowledge and experience to be valued, as well as considered during the PD design process.  

When teachers are required to sit through one-size-fits-all professional development, it is easy for them to become frustrated or even resentful. Unintentional PD design undoubtedly contributes to educators’ dissatisfaction with mandated teacher training, repeatedly leaving teachers with a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to any type of continued learning.  

Adult learning theories such as Knowles’ Theory of Andragogy proposed concepts that most certainly initiated a revolution in the world of adult education.   We know that educators (and all adults, for that matter) prefer professional development that is relevant to their needs and has practical use. Abundant research on adult learning has revealed the importance of offering learning opportunities that are problem-centered, self-directed, and lead to immediate utility of newly acquired skills.  

At MobileMind, we wholeheartedly believe that educators deserve high quality, meaningful professional development that is grounded in such research.  Providing PD grounded in said research is absolutely essential if any professional development initiative is to succeed. Our self-directed, personalized micro-courses allow teachers to guide their own learning.  

Each teacher is able to engage in training  that is relevant to his or her unique challenges, needs, and goals.  We want teachers to know that their time is valued and for everyone to find success, whether they are seeking Google certifications or a brand new Google users wanting to build foundational skills. We ensure they do by offering micro-courses that are geared towards learners at any level. Finally, our hands-on challenges not only model practicality of skills acquired, but also allow educators to begin creating materials they can use immediately in their classrooms and schools. 

To read the rest of our 6 part blog series including our introduction click here.

6 Challenges of Traditional Professional Development

Although there is quite a bit of in-depth research regarding effective professional development (PD) and best practices for educators, studies suggest that typical PD neglects to adequately address the needs of these adult learners.  Research on adult learning supports the fact that there is a disconnect between research-based best practice and the traditional PD models found in schools. Unfortunately, it is rather challenging to meet the needs of all adult learners in typical face-to-face professional learning.  The good news is that, with a more modern, virtual approach to PD, we are able to tackle such challenges, offering innovative personalized solutions for teachers.

In studies of educators’ dissatisfaction with traditional professional development, as well as leaders’ struggles with planning for teacher training, there are several themes that repeatedly emerge in the findings.  Challenges with traditional PD for teachers include, but are not limited to, issues such as:

In our next several blog posts, we will address each of these challenges and discuss how we can leverage personalized learning in order to meet the needs of all educator-learners, regardless of role or previous experience with G Suite.