Since I left the classroom 12 years ago, I have had the privilege of working with schools and districts across the country, always with the same primary goal: help educators and students get the best possible return from their online programs. In some cases, it’s a straightforward process, dealing with one product and a small, cohesive group of educators. In other situations, the process is more complex: several products, multiple groups at different sites or grade levels with divergent goals, and limited technology resources.
Across all kinds of circumstances, a common challenge is professional development. Decision-makers will agree that, in theory, ongoing training is critical to having a successful implementation. However, budget constraints, time limitations and those divergent goals and limitations often get in the way.
In Bernie Poole’s Education Week column, Ten Pillars of Successful Technology Implementation, the 10 crucial elements of a successful implementation of technology are listed. Not surprisingly, Poole’s Pillar #5 is: ”All teachers must receive ongoing training.” Poole writes, “Teachers are the leaders in the classroom. How can they take advantage of the first of these secrets of successful technology integration (Active support must come from the top.) unless they have sufficient knowledge and skill to feel that they are competent in creating learning opportunities in a technology-rich learning environment?”
Despite the overwhelmingly known value of professional development, the reality for most principals and district administrators is that the ability to deliver ongoing training is unattainable due those constraints mentioned earlier. At this point, you might be asking how do teachers get trained? Typically, I ask administrators to get creative with meeting times for teams, by grade or subject. “Train-the-trainer” and other hands-on, teacher-centered plans can also be very effective.
In the end, an approach that allows teachers to learn at their own pace, anytime, anywhere is the ideal solution. With that fact in mind, Edmentum recently released our Power User Program for Study Island. The Power User Program features brief, one-to-two-minute video lessons designed to walk teachers through the various instructional tools within their Study Island subscriptions. Educators learn about the program’s features by using Study Island in the same the way their students will—helping them become a better resource and leader for learners in the classroom.
As I’ve watched our customers start to utilize the Power User Program, I’ve also been reminded of the power of incentives. As is true for students, a little motivation can go a long way to spur teachers’ learning. Some administrators will offer gift cards or take teachers out to lunch for participating in the Power User Program. These are great rewards, but in my opinion, an even more effective incentive is to offer teachers continuing education credit for completion of the Power User Program. The Teach Tomorrow website maintains a list showing the mandated number of hours or units teachers must attain in each of the 50 states to maintain their teaching certification. Using the Power User Program to fulfill these units enables teachers to whittle down those continuing education requirements and gain valuable training with Study Island—all through the use of a high-quality, no-cost resource.
We’re proud of the breadth of tools available within Study Island, and we’re excited to see he innovative teaching and learning that educators can accomplish with specific training to unleash the full power of those tools. Our Power User Program is free, product-focused, self-paced and continuing-education-compliant—and we’re confident it can contribute to a successful technology implementation in your school or district. Ready to get started? Simply log in to your Study Island subscription, and access the Power User Program from the home screen. Check out this video to see how!