My institution is considering allowing our group to develop a program for in-service teachers to help them acquire new skills and knowledge as well as gain the credit hours/contact hours they need for re-certification.

My questions to the group are:

What form(s) should it be in?
- I'm pressing for online, async, long form for the summer (12wks so there's time for reflection and practice)
- There are other choices but they all limit the audience in different ways. Short form is possible, but would require intensive activity for a shorter period. Should we do both?

What courses would you take?
- I've got three in mind for "proof of concept classes." We'll be recruiting math, science, and reading faculty to work on specific curriculum based topics if we can prove that this is a viable program.

-- SecondLife Boot Camp where you learn how to do things like create an avatar, dress for success, and basic building and scripting. This would be a precursor to actually learning to teach there and would serve as an intro to get people over the learning curve.

-- Web 2.0 in the Classroom where we'll explore blogs, feeds, wikis, flickr, tagging ... and all the webaliciousness that is web 2. The objective is to give teachers enough experience with the tools to be able to make rational choices about incorporating them into their own practice.

-- Freebie tools to Extend Your Class where we'll look at how tools like PortableApps can provide every student with their own tools to take with them when they go and to use in other places. Key element here is basic familiarity with tools like Open Office, The GIMP, Audacity, etc.

What OTHER courses? What would you take if it were offered?

Thanks and I'm looking forward to your responses.

Tags: development, professional

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Thanks, Mandy.

There are some great points there.

"how the courses would improve student success"

this one is problematic, because before we can address student success we have to deal with teacher success. I think one of the things that's holding teachers in general back is a failure to realize that they need to improve their own skills *before* they can improve their students'.

It's an old problem.

Maybe I can use an airline analogy ...

"Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting people around you."

And it goes back to the old axiom "Teachers teach the way they were taught." What we need to do is help teachers learn with the tools we want them to teach with. These first few technology courses are only intended to provide the key skill sets needed to pursue deeper and more specialized knowledge.

Thanks for the link. That'll be interesting reading.
I actually think they need to explore the technology *before* they can identify any pedagogical application. It's what makes me twitch when I hear non-blogging teachers ask how to use a blog in class. Kinda like an artist asking how to draw with one of these pencil things.

Video conferencing may be problematic because of technology thresholds and I'm not sure of the utility in classroom settings, but I like the idea of CMS's. Not that most classroom teachers get a lot of *choice* when dealing with a CMS but a tour of the various landscapes and pitfalls might help inform classroom practice.
Definitely longer form, but with some concentrated project time that gives people time to work together.

Seems like you are focusing on a lot of tools that allow for communication and collaboration. All to the good - but it limits how far it's going to take you in science and math. Talking and writing about math isn't math.

How about Scratch? Google SketchUp? Some of the Concord Consortium free tools for molecular modeling are really fun. (not sure what grade level this targets, but Scratch at least is elementary accessible)

Audacity is a good idea because audio editing is fast (much faster to do and teach than video) and you can really get the whole planning, production, post-production process into a short time frame. The important part isn't the tool (of course) but the process (much like the writing process) that strengthens the learning.

While there is scripting and building in Second Life, unfortunately, it's something it takes a long time to get to because of the steep learning curve in the moving around, dressing, and fussing around with the avatars. By the time you get to scripting, there's never enough time. Plus the scripting language is not easy to use.

Get these teachers to MAKE something and reflect on the complex learning process that needs to take place.
I got another whole set of science and math tools, but our focus is turning teachers into learners so they'll have the tools they need to go beyond what they can pay for in terms of CEU's and CRs.

And you're *exactly* right. Getting them to make something is the key.



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