Carbon Lehigh IU 21: Accessible online professional development
Like many of today’s working professionals, Ivonne Miranda juggles work and family responsibilities every day. That includes fitting skill-sharpening professional development into her schedule.
Oddly enough, Carbon Lehigh IU 21 had noticed a dichotomy in professional development: While technology revolutionizes education and give today’s students countless online options to suit their learning needs, teachers’ online training options lag behind the times.
So, recognizing that teachers juggling work and life responsibilities can’t always access online courses that have traditional start and end dates, CLIU transformed select, existing online courses into flexible on-demand offerings.
“Educators are all about meeting students in the way they learn,” says Dr. Charlotte M. Golden, Director of Curriculum & Instruction/Educational Technologies. “As this movement catches on, we sometimes ignore the way we learn ourselves. We’re using online learning to allow educators to practice what they preach.”
For Miranda, an Allentown School District elementary literacy coach, the flexible offerings meant that she didn’t have to travel to an institution for classes, or even sit down to the computer at a pre-ordained time.
“As a person who works and has a family, being able to take classes online at the convenience of a time that has worked for me has been wonderful,” says Miranda.
The initiative launched in fall 2016 with two components:
Miranda added that the chance to learn technology for use in class “has been amazing. The videos and the step-by-step process has made it easy to learn and implement with my students and instruction.”
- Six flexible, on-demand courses that teachers can complete according to their own schedules. Additional topics will be added, including many requested by teachers seeking skill-building in specific areas, such as differentiating instruction for individual students.
- Modules available for purchase by school districts, including the on-demand courses and more than 30 other online professional development options. Increasingly, teacher contracts stipulate that teachers can trade some traditional in-person training for online professional development. CLIU’s offerings allow districts to select from a menu of courses and establish their own timelines for completion.
CLIU’s initiative builds on its eLearn21, the innovative effort training teachers in effectively using cyber tools. It’s even inspiring teachers to create courses relevant to them and their peers, because “all the tools are right there, as well as our hand-in-hand professional development to help them design the courses, and not just take the courses,” says Golden. “As everybody’s tech skills increase, first you become a consumer, and then you become a producer in the online world.”
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