As increasing demands on teachers’ time are coupled with the need for remote learning resources, online PD has emerged as an important tool to address new challenges. Whether educators need to learn how to use edtech tools, analyze student data or implement Common Core standards, online PD can offer educators support when and where they need it.
But how can school leaders integrate online PD into their culture quickly and effectively? Specifically, PD that leverages technology in a meaningful way, as one survey showed that less than half of teachers felt that the PD they received supported their use of edtech effectively.
We’ve worked with schools for many years to integrate online PD into their overall PD plans. These seven tips can help you launch and expand an online PD program that will serve the needs of both teachers and administrators and successfully mix with the other PD activities happening at your school.
1. Select PD that will address more than a single technology need
When selecting an online provider, you will want PD that addresses all disciplines and diverse learning needs. Don’t select PD that only addresses how to use a single tool, but one that will model effective technology use, while demonstrating the implementation of standards. In Teachers Know Best, teachers “suggest that the ideal professional learning experience should focus less on presentations and lectures and more on opportunities to apply learning through demonstrations or modeling and practice.”
2. Match online PD with specific goals
Implementation options that can scale with your needs are an important consideration...find out if teachers can log into PD through your LMS.
It’s essential to identify PD content that aligns with the initiatives in your school. With OTIS for educators, you are paired with a PD Specialist who will conduct a needs assessment in order to identify instructional goals, inventory your current technology, discuss your initiatives and curate PD content that aligns with your objectives. Instruction is modeled in PD sessions that are broadcast live, then archived into a library for future viewing.
For example, to prepare teachers for distance learning using G-Suite and Google Classroom, our PD Specialists select the appropriate content, then organize it into a “playlist” to be distributed to teachers. This keeps the PD focused on the outcomes you are looking for, and your teachers receive PD relevant to their needs.
During implementation, it is important to engage with the PD team through a series of meetings and conversations. It’s essential that your PD provider understands your unique goals and expectations, and that cannot happen by exclusively working through a website without personal interactions.
3. Opt for scalability
Implementation options that can scale with your needs are an important consideration. Some schools can easily provide a roster of teachers; others use rostering tools like Clever or Classlink. To streamline access, find out if teachers can log into PD through your LMS. How usernames and passwords are managed should be considered, as it will be time consuming to manage without the right process and support.
Make sure you have direct phone access to your online PD provider to support you through the scaling process. With OTIS for educators, every school has access to a Customer Success Specialist to handle rostering, access, LMS integration and planning questions.
4. Communicate what is available
Do not fall into the trap of purchasing a PD program and not creating awareness within your school.
Eight out of ten teachers reported that they made the decision about whether to use digital products in their classrooms, so communicating the range of PD offerings available is also important. Access to technology like 3D printers, robotics kits or other digital tools can also be communicated, along with the PD resources needed to get educators up and running.
Communicating that there is online PD available through emails and social media is an important step in launching a program. Walk the teachers through what is available to them in an onsite session, then leave them with printed materials on how to access their accounts and who the online PD administrators are at their school. This provides them with everything they need to feel comfortable accessing the PD online for the first time. It’s also a great opportunity to ask questions and make sure everyone can log into their accounts without any trouble.
5. Set an expectation for PD
Make time for onboarding teachers so they understand what you are providing and what they have access to. Do not fall into the trap of purchasing a PD program and not creating awareness within your school. As stated in the Glimpse K12 analysis of school spending, “administrators must ask themselves, ‘Are we prepared to set clear expectations for usage and implementation fidelity?’” Leverage a vendor’s customer success team as much as possible. This will provide teachers with additional PD opportunities.
Five Free Distance Learning PD Sessions
- Remote Learning: Administrator Strategies
- Google Classroom and Meet for Remote Learning
- Using Microsoft Teams for Remote Learning
- Classroom Management Tips for Google Classroom
- Making Screencast Videos with Screencastify
6. Provide time for learning
Providing teachers time to practice and share the skills they are learning in PD sessions creates a more meaningful experience. With live broadcasts, OTIS for educators simulates an in-person PD experience. It also has a unique option for group viewing, which allows a team of teachers to watch an online PD session together, yet each person will get individual credit for taking the PD. Knowing that they can participate in a session together and support each other makes online PD adoption easier for your teachers.
7. Customize content
Even the best PD providers will not have everything specific to your school’s needs. Many schools have teachers present workshops on scheduled PD days, often recording the sessions and providing them to all teachers that may not have been able to attend on that specific date. Platforms like OTIS allow you to upload content specific to your school and its workflows.
With OTIS for educators, we’ve created a service that provides PD on edtech and distance learning in a meaningful way. Our online PD courses improve teacher pedagogy and student engagement on all levels, whether instruction is taking place in the classroom or remotely. We embed research-based best practices into our courses to model effective instruction and target student needs. Explicit skill instruction, student-directed activities, instructional strategies and systematic student assessment are just a few examples of best practices that are embedded into our model.
By following some of the insights provided above, we hope you can be successful when making online PD part of your school’s professional development culture.
Connect with Teq to make online PD part of your school’s culture.