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New Online PD Tools Beg for New Content Approach

Today we’ve launched an exciting new set of online professional development authoring tools within our education platform Cartographi. That was the easy part; the program content on the other hand presents a more complex set of issues.



It is always exciting to move from the initial project planning on the whiteboard to then months later launching out a whole new set of tools and a program. In this instance, the modules represent a model of teacher induction specific to Career and Technical Educators that come directly from industry with the intent of bringing their vast career experience to the classroom as new teachers. So consider a long-time ICU nurse, who is transitioning his love of the profession to come teach Health Careers Occupations to high school Juniors and Seniors, or a recently retired Civil Engineer, who wants to come teach two sections of Beginning and Intermediate Engineering Design drawing upon many of the skills she knows to be requisite to that industry sector.

These two examples, and thousands of others like them, often have little to no teaching experience, but all of the desire and energy to step into a classroom to expand students’ understanding and access to both Career and College pathways tied to their respective career fields. Instead of engaging in a local teacher induction program (if one can even be found in their local area), they can participate in a series of 6 online modules covering everything from:

  • policy and regulations, to
  • lesson planning and design, to
  • classroom management and assessment

Because the modules were certified by both the California State Board of Education and the California State Commission on Teacher Credentialing, modifying the content itself was not permissible. However in transferring the content from an older, linear model PD framework, to a new environment and set of tools that allow for online learning approaches such as differentiated pathways, formative assessment cycling, meta-cognition activities, packaged with shorter bursts of content, embedded media, and granular scaffolding around key resources.

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So, when it comes to deploying content not initially designed for these features nor designed to be presented to the learner within such a framework, you stand to seriously expose or illuminate specific gaps in instructional flow. When an agency looks at the work as being a matter of merely replicating their existing content, they should instead consider rethinking delivery and learner experience as an opportunity not an obstacle. We are working with the program leads now to take a look at including a specific line of inquiry when asking a learner to watch a video, or having learners create a specific cognitive map showing points of personal and professional relevance across research sources, or integrating existing curriculum mapping tools when asking the learner to create common curricular artifacts such as course outlines, lessons, or activities for students. It is exciting to discuss the prospects of creating diverse pathways for the learners based on the existing knowledge they bring to the course, or allowing them access to specialized resources tailored to the career field they came from originally. When a tool allows you to see your content in a new light and then do something better with that new information, you know you’re on the right track. So far about 300 new learners have started in on the modules and are moving through their activities and competencies.

While many talents went into re-developing this program content and the eloquent system in which it now resides, we wanted to make a point of identifying Dan Krieger for his system architecture prowess on this project, and Jodi Halligan for one month of dedicated re-design of all the instructional content and activities and the young Frank Quinn for ongoing testing, content and user migration, and client support. Incredible work team!

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