Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rethinking PD

When I did PYP training (Making the PYP Happen), I was fortunate to be able to do it all in a weekend. It was a whirlwind weekend, but it was over after two days plus some online time.

I was able to do my MYP training this past school year. It was not the best timing (Is it ever?) but I feel I learned a lot in that short time. My wife is in the middle of her MYP training, and it got me thinking about an effective online PD.

During the first two weeks of her training, the facilitator was online every day. The pace of the workshop was set. The facilitator gave about four assignments a week, which were then turned in and commented on. It was pretty intense, but it looked like a worthwhile effort.

Then suddenly the facilitator was not online for a few days. I said that it is probably just because it is summer and the facilitator is on vacation too. My words rang hollow. The precedent had already been set that the facilitator would be online daily and assignments would be checked regularly.

What might work better?
I have taken many online courses in the last 10 years. Not one of them has put students into small learning teams.

But who will oversee the work?
I would either get extra teacher assistants to help (online courses don't require as much capital to get them going) or monitor each group. Each group would then have readings, blog posts, comments, and projects to do with roles being rotated amongst the group members. In addition, I would create a set routine of when I would be online and when I would check work. That way students would be able to fall into a routine.

I know that facilitating an online course must be a challenge and I don't mean to come down on anyone. But, I do think that the way courses are structured are due for an update. These ideas are here for me incase I decide to use them in my own courses.

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