Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Anytime Learning for GCS Teachers

Duncan Chapel Elementary Fourth Grade Teacher Dana Tinklepaugh enjoys the flexibility of taking courses online and on her schedule.Hardly a week goes by that Tim Cushman, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, doesn’t remind his team of eight technology facilitators of their mission: “We are teachers growing teachers.”

Though the mission may not change, the methods and tools available to achieve that mission are ever-changing. From Chromebooks to personalized learning initiatives with 1:1 devices to Promethean Boards, the tools available to GCS teachers are drastically different than the tools available even five years ago. With every advancement, device, and initiative comes the need for focused, intentional, and effective training for teachers and administrators.

“It’s very common that teachers sign up for classes and don’t attend because by the end of the day they’re tired and don’t want to travel across town for another hour or two of classes,” said Cushman. “We are offering them the opportunity to get free professional development on their own schedule from the comfort of their living room.”

Officially, it could be called asynchronous learning, but for the average teacher, “anytime” is the best description because instead of requiring teachers to be onsite at a specific location at a specific time, he or she can participate at his or her own pace, at home, at the library, at school, or at the local coffee shop.

In addition to the technology proficiency courses Intel 2 and Intel Elements, which are offered online each spring, summer, and fall, this year the IT team has expanded the professional development to include a number of short-term anytime learning opportunities.

  • iTunesU is a free, online course that teaches educators how to use an iPad while learning apps that impact their teaching. Teachers are required to upload evidence of student learning. About 75 teachers are participating in this course.
  • IQuest is an online course where teachers learn how to use apps while collaborating with other teachers. Initially piloted by 16 teachers, others will participate in this course during the summer. Click here to browse the iQuest website.
  • Edmodo: A Blended Learning Experience is a blend of live video conferencing with an instructor while working within Edmodo. A pilot group of 15 educators will participate this spring. Click here to see the Edmodo course syllabus.
  • Discovery Education provides teachers with instructional videos. They are required to answer questions to earn a certificate. About 150 teachers have completed a course.

Here is what our teachers are saying about the new learning opportunities:

“I really enjoyed the iTunesU class.  It was useful in incorporating the iPad into the classroom.  The teacher was willing to help anytime which made me as the student feel very secure in knowing that I would be successful in completing the course.” – Sabra Miller, Welcome Elementary

“I loved having the option to work at my own pace from home on new technology options to incorporate into my teaching. iTunesU was user-friendly and let me explore different apps that enhance my students' engagement. I would definitely like to participate in this training again!” - Ruth DeChant, First Grade, Welcome Elementary

“The iTunesU class allowed me to work at my own pace. I was able to help others on my team who were in the class and I learned even more than sitting in on a PD session.” - Haley Stephens, Third Grade, Welcome Elementary

“We used Edmodo to turn in the projects and received feedback from the other participants. If we had questions, they were quickly answered either by the instructor or a fellow classmate. It was very helpful to have the time in the summer to try out the different apps. Another benefit was that when school started in the fall the teachers already knew how to use the app and could plan to use it with their students.” – Ann Healtherly, Instructional Coach, Thomas E. Kerns Elementary

“Getting feedback and interacting with colleagues about completed projects led to further brainstorming and formed a positive and uplifting professional community. With good working knowledge of a few core apps, I felt empowered and confident when introducing these apps to my students in the classroom.” - Kerith Fay, First Grade, Thomas E. Kerns Elementary

“Being able to sit down on a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and participate in Discovery Education PD instead of having to muster up energy after a long day of work to sit through a two-hour discussion right after school is wonderful. This has really motivated me to offering more online classes for my faculty, and they are really receptive to it.” – Allison Barton, Technology Integration Specialist, Greenville Sr. High Academy

For more information about upcoming professional development opportunities, please contact any member of the Instructional Technology Team or visit www.greenville.k12.sc.us/it.

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