eLearning Proposal

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eLearning Proposal

  1. 1. eLearning Proposal Ann Younce IT 5650 – Policies and Procedures for eLearning Programs
  2. 2. - 2 - “The key to implementing successful eLearning is to develop an eLearning strategy that is right for your organization and constantly review what you do against that strategy” (Fee, K., 2009, p.154) Introduction: Description of context, setting and need for change RHR Elementary School maintains a culture of high expectations for best practice and professional learning within a strong, professional development-focused district. The school utilizes embedded Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to build capacity while continually seeking and expanding learning experiences. Although there is a strong base of technology use among faculty and staff (more than half are either digital natives or skilled digital immigrants) with full support from the administration, there is still an emerging need for increased technology integration into all classroom instructional practice, and a general lack of consistent training & support for learning about and utilizing technology more effectively schoolwide. One solution is to provide, in tandem with the existing PLC program, an eLearning environment through which faculty training can expand into an online approach to professional development. The school can offer an even more well-rounded professional growth program with the inclusion of a site-based pilot initiative for eLearning. The implementation of a learner-centered, self-paced and blended eLearning program would enable teachers to access “just-in-time” training and support as they are working to learn more about instructional technologies and build them into their instructional practice. This initiative would offer opportunities for learners to become more aware of new technologies and instructional strategies, increase their comfort level and productivity with a wide range of Web 2.0 tools, as well as provide support and peer interaction throughout the pilot process to include eLearning solutions as a part of the professional development offerings. The initiative can eventually expand to encompass a wider variety of professional learning opportunities and address those vital 21 st century skills issues for teachers. There is a profound gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need in typical 21st century communities and workplaces. To successfully face rigorous higher education coursework, career challenges and a globally competitive workforce, U.S. schools must align classroom environments with real world environments by infusing 21st century skills (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004). Purpose of Planned Changes and Rationale RHR’s organizational purpose and school motto clearly states: “Learning…Whatever It Takes” and it is an effective philosophy for student achievement as well as professional growth. This foundational message would also support the implementation of a site-based pilot eLearning program as a solution to the need for additional technology training time and staff development instructors/instructional coaches.
  3. 3. - 3 - The school and district already support eLearning in the following ways:  District-based e-courses for secondary students through online learning coordinator  Recent launch of PD-360: a digital, on-demand staff development library of research-based video content, community boards, resources, tracking and reflection  Wiki support spaces as complements to traditional workshop training  Online research databases for educators  Some web-based applications (such as Unitedstreaming, Atomic Learning) District workshops and courses are also available beyond school business hours, although they can often be difficult for teachers to attend and still maintain the high level of classroom commitment and parent communication expected. An eLearning solution can bridge the gap for individualized professional development offered through flexible online learning opportunities. Continual improvement of teacher practice will translate to continual improvement of student achievement. Such a solution would close the instructional technology knowledge gap by increasing the awareness and effectiveness of eLearning strategies, while closing the skill gap by teachers utilizing Web 2.0 tools effectively for both professional development and instruction. Advantages:  Improve instructional technology skill in a collaborative environment (“learn by doing”)  Strengthen professional relationships & build community through shared experience  Maximize capacity through blended online and traditional training environments  Increase professional development time and opportunities in a more efficient manner  Model a variety of instructional technology integration ideas  Provide “just-in-time” training through flexible options Challenges:  Developing quality content and instructional design in a timely manner with current workload of key staff  Obtaining resources for design & build time as well as implementation staff may be difficult with current duties and schedule demands  Possible resistance from some reluctant “digital immigrants”, or those that are slower to recognize the value of instructional technology There is a need to focus on the experience of eLearning to satisfy 21st century skills. Utilizing a combination of ubiquitous technology, meaningful content and effective learning design, participants will learn how to be an eLearner (Fee, 2009, p.17).
  4. 4. - 4 - Goals/Intended Outcomes Learners will be able to…  Shift thinking about eLearning; increase comfort level and interactions with eLearning environments and decrease mystique of “tech jargon” for some, as measured by growth in continued participation numbers and perception data of new participants  Apply effective use of web 2.0 tools (such as blogs, podcasts, wikis, forums, interactive meetings, classroom management systems and collaborative sites such as VoiceThread) in their instructional practice as well as for professional growth, as measured by increased technology visibility within instructional practice and grade student participation  Utilize flexible access to a virtual classroom and EdWeb (with modules for “mini courses”, “quick tips”, and a resource gallery of methods, tools, strategies, as measured by log-in data and course completion  Maximize onsite professional development time and access training more efficiently “anytime/anywhere” as measured by log-in data, course reflections, professional development perception data  Produce work at own pace; choose levels of support and training as needed; determine type of training by interest level, as measured by course reflections, repeat participation, monitoring of independent use vs. need for coaching, and perception data Selected model of eLearning The selected eLearning model will be mostly a self-managed, self-paced design with learners accessing a variety of short courses and support modules as needed, or according to learner interest (for example, courses supporting the school-wide reading goals). Some aspects of the eLearning program will be integrated with offline activities that correlate to the existing professional development trainings and are conducted in tandem with the current practice of PLC collaborations, for a more blended approach (Fee, 2009, p.23):  Creation of a "virtual classroom" atmosphere, where participants can take "mini-courses" and "quick tips"-type interactions in a partially self-guided process  Access to a wide variety of resources and a gallery of methods, strategies, tools, etc. from which to choose and develop further best practice  Learners will experience the eLearning cycle of “absorb, do and connect” (Horton, 2006 pp.39-40) as they absorb presentations and readings, do activities that enable them to practice, explore and discover, and finally connect new learning to prior learning or current work  An opportunity to join a "cohort" of similar learners on site who are going through the eLearning process at relatively the same time/pace… to learn with colleagues in "real time" as well, as they begin to navigate through what, for many, will be their first eLearning experience
  5. 5. - 5 - In this blended approach, it will be vital to offer the occasional "combined" experiences of “face to face” training with online learning. Such as an initial launch of the eLearning program in a roll-out to all faculty, introducing them to the "site" and how to use it. The eLearning program would then become a part of the existing rotations of embedded professional learning and practice (see current training situations). Although the eLearning program would be accessible to faculty and staff “anytime, anywhere”, it will be necessary to provide additional opportunities in existing rotations to check-in on cohorts; or bring in a "train the trainers" approach with new strategies they learn online. This learner-centered model would encourage learners to take control of their own learning, empowering learners while meeting individual needs (Fee, 2009, pp. 27-8). In addition, capacity would continue to build as other potential online content developers begin to emerge from the group. Audience/Learner Analysis While the stakeholders include the principal, the lead teachers and curriculum coordinators, the K-5 teachers at RHR are both stakeholders and the primary intended audience for this eLearning solution: Setting (general demographic data for the intended K-5 elementary faculty audience) Learners (an assortment of expectations and assumptions from the faculty)  Approximate numbers at each grade division: primary-level teachers (15); intermediate-level teachers (15); support staff and specialists (15)  Approximately 42 female faculty and three male faculty  10% have been teaching less than 1 year; 20% have been teaching 2-7 years; 40% have been teaching 8-15 years; 30% have been teaching longer than 16 years. (Additionally, the school is in its fifth year of operation and 30% were among the original cohort to open the school)  More than60% have Masters degrees; all have elementary education certification; and 30% have additional training in Middle School, High School or administrative backgrounds  40% digital natives; 40% skilled digital immigrants; about 20% digital immigrants with little or no training  Most of the intended audience are highly knowledgeable in content and best practice (all have high reading abilities and are regular practitioners of professional development; many are practiced at self-directed learning skills)  Based on perception data, most are extremely motivated to improve student learning (and to increase their own professional learning and implement effective best practice)  An expectation of a similar level of high engagement in eLearning to that found in the current face-to-face meetings  Adequate interest levels an activities within eLearning to satisfy the variety of learning style preferences among faculty; all faculty share a school-wide reading instruction initiative  Adequate choice and options of topics and learning experiences  General curiosity about eLearning and willingness to try an eLearning offering  Some worry that there are not enough headphones or microphones on-site to participate in collaborative activities online  Some addressed concerns regarding the amount of time eLearning would take in addition to current school obligations; others were concerned that eLearning would replace face-to-face training In order to address the items listed above, the following considerations have been made:  The ease of eLearning will be at the forefront of the design to anticipate fears and provide a comfortable pace, easy access, dual-platform compatibility, effective peer interaction and opportunities to embed eLearning throughout the professional day and during off-school hours. Options will be offered where a teacher may choose to learn independently (from home or work),
  6. 6. - 6 - or work together as part of a community of practice or learning cohort (either as a grade level team, or even as part of a designated school study group) while maintaining individual outcomes. The importance of asynchronous learning in this situation is that teachers (who already have assemblies, special school projects, additional duties, grading and reporting periods, etc. beyond their normal day) will view this less as “one more thing on their plate” and more of “just-in-time” learning if the timing and pace are individualized and learner-led.  Additionally, potential gaps of those who have used eLearning before versus those who have not can be alleviated with peer coaching and support provided through the eLearning design and the increased technology use and embedded practice will help build capacity and grow interest. Analysis of current training situations: The current professional development plan at RHR successfully embeds three strands each month into a rotating schedule consisting of (1) professional development training, (2) professional learning communities, and (3) “Response to Intervention” (RTI) teams; with the fourth rotation utilized as a general staff meeting time. Although the current plan is successful, there is still not enough embedded time to offer a site-based selection of technology course or workshop options, in addition to having an already over- burdened staff with many existing additional duties and commitments. The eLearning design will serve as a complement to the current professional development program. The school has one computer lab on campus, 2 laptop carts, and teachers have individual computers in their classrooms (as well as web-based access from home). The school currently runs a Mac-based platform, with hi-speed cable and wireless Internet access. The school’s productivity software is MS Office and the primary browsers are Safari and Firefox. (There are also high numbers of dual-platform users in their homes, with PC computers and Internet Explorer as their main browser; additionally, the district’s “Guaranteed & Viable Technology” program has plans to create a dual-platform base district-wide. Many of the current site-wide software applications are server-based and therefore only accessible while on campus. However, the district’s GVT plans call for the transition to web-based applications to provide greater access district-wide by summer 2009.) An additional advantage of this eLearning solution is its ability to be web-based and accessible both on- and off-campus, supporting the district’s GVT philosophy. Feasibility/Planning Since the district and school have considerable budget constraints facing this and future years, the bulk of planning and implementation will be provided by a core team of teachers and staff within specially designated school-release times. Content Design and Development Plans The content design and development plans will be conducted by a core team of faculty and staff consisting of the Technology Academy liaison, Instructional Coach, IT/Technology teacher, and several grade-level
  7. 7. - 7 - teacher leaders. They will set-up course shells, design 2 to 3 course selections for the initial pilot which will target 21st century learning, and oversee the long-range development of the project, including intermittent meetings with the school principal. It is vital to tap the expertise within a school or school district through coaching, mentoring and team teaching, all of which this core planning team will provide for the faculty learners (Partnerships for 21st Century Skills, 2004). Administrative Support Since these eLearning opportunities are provided in-house and free of charge to school faculty, there is little administrative support necessary outside of that which will be handled by the core planning team. The core team will monitor the number of participants per course so as not to exceed the maximum limits, and report participation results to the school principal. Some administrative office support will be needed in the form of arranging substitute teachers for core team release time and grade-level team training. Additional professional development face-to-face meeting logistics will be shared by the core team and administrative support staff. Technical Specifications Due to budget constrictions, the programmatic approach will be to utilize no-cost web-based applications. The open-source Course Management System (CMS) Moodle will support the main course structure and serve as the online collaborative hub. Participants will have the opportunity to take two courses throughout the year as a part of their embedded professional development time or beyond school hours. Additional face-to-face trainings will be available throughout the year. Although the school maintains a collection of technology tools such as digital cameras, webcams and microphones, it will be necessary to purchase some additional headsets with microphones and video cameras. Additional free web-based tools will be used for web page creation, assessment, e-portfolios, mind maps, and social networking. Roles In my role as a teacher and Technology Academy Liaison, I am also an eLearner and serve as a member of the core planning team: Roles Key Personnel Project management Core planning team (technology academy liaison, instructional coach, IT/technology teacher, grade level teacher leaders); school principal Planning and support Core planning team Implementation/training Core planning team Instruction Core planning team Marketing/promotion Core planning team; school principal Evaluation Core planning team; school principal
  8. 8. - 8 - Budget In order to support budgetary constraints, the core planning team will be utilizing free web-based applications and tools that already belong to the site as fixed materials. The main costs will be reflected in the need for substitute teachers during release time for the core planning team. It is important to note that the initial investment of start-up costs should be expected, and a significant investment upfront will result in reduced recurring costs over time (Fee, 2009, p.116) as course are set into place and will be on a revision cycle in future years. Also, as more teachers are trained, the school builds capacity with the potential for new courses and instructors. Item Description Costs design/development (planning & implementation years) Core planning team stipend: 6 teachers @ $500 (for each of two years…planning & implementation) $6000 management Core team; after-school professional development time used (included in stipend) Training (implementation year) Substitute teachers for core team instructor release & grade level team release: 5 teachers @ $100/day for 3, two-day rotations during the year; plus teacher give-aways/prizes at training (5 @ $20) $3100 Instruction (implementation year) Core team; after-school professional development time used (included in stipend) tools and materials (implementation year) 10 headset/microphones ($20); 2 digital video cameras ($400) $1000 Total Projected Costs (over 2 years) Pilot year 1 (planning); year 2 (implementation) $11,100 *grant writing will be addressed during the first pilot year as a possible source for future financial support Project Timeline Phase Description of Action Projected Timeframe Year 1 – Proposal Pilot proposal Spring 2010 Year 1 – Design/Development Core team begins planning/design Summer 2010 Course development Fall 2010 Mid-year course review February 2011 Course development complete Spring 2011 Year 1 – Evaluation/Revision Review completed courses May 2011 Course revisions complete June 2011 Year 1 – Training/Planning Prep roll-out; beta test pre-pilot group Summer 2011 Year 2 – Implementation Faculty roll-out; Instruction begins Fall 2011
  9. 9. - 9 - Year 2 – Training/Support Intermittent grade-level trainings Ongoing prof. development and support Face-to-face meeting (each trimester) Year 2 – Mid-Year Eval/Revision Mid-year course completion December 2011 Survey data collected/analyzed Year 2 – Training/Support 2nd round of courses begin January 2012 Intermittent grade-level trainings Ongoing prof. development and support Face-to-face meeting (each trimester) Year 2 – Evaluation/Revision End-year course completion May 2012 Survey data collected/analyzed Year 3- Proposal Course revisions for next year June 2012 Implementation Plans Project Management This eLearning project is divided into two major phases: content development and content delivery/ maintenance. This process is iterative in nature and although evaluation is a separate stage in and of itself, instances of ongoing formative evaluation should always be embedded throughout the project (Khan, B. 2004, p.33). The core planning team will continue to oversee all project management during the roll-out to faculty and the instruction phases, with consistent monitoring in the course shell, regular updates to the CMS, face-to- face grade level meetings/trainings for further implementation of course learnings, and regular faculty meetings during the applicable professional development rotation. Informal formative evaluation will also consistently occur, with regular periods of summative evaluation twice in the year, which will enable minor revisions and corrections. The core planning team will continue to meet regularly during after-school professional development time as well as online collaboration in the course shell and core planning team blog. Learner Management Initial face-to-face trainings will be offered during the roll-out period, with continued support for learners in locating and accessing the course shell and related sites, any prerequisite or prior knowledge necessary, the use of technology tools, and the like. Instructors will manage and assess learners within the course shell, and additional online collaboration will be offered. Additional resources for monitoring learners include web-based surveys, social networking tools and assessments. The core planning team will track course completion data twice in the year.
  10. 10. - 10 - Marketing/Promotion Since this eLearning solution is being offered to faculty at no cost, very little traditional marketing or promotion needs to be done. The eLearning program will be announced and briefly explained at staff meetings throughout year 1 (the design and planning phase), as well as promoted in the following ways: principal’s newsletter, faculty website, professional development rotations, technology blog, and during year 2 (the instruction and training phase) additional promotion will take place within the course shell and through word-of-mouth of the pilot participants. Future years will utilize advertising in the school planning calendar, and perhaps expand further to a district model. Evaluation of eLearning/Accountability Evaluation should represent both a predictive look forward and a historical look back at what we are trying to measure and why, as well as the results we need to produce in terms of the learner and the organization (Fee, 2009, p.115). One valid way to collect and measure results is to use Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels which consist of: measuring program results (increased student achievement), behaviors (change in skill set), learning (end-product assessment), and reactions (perception and feedback) to predict the level of program success (Fee, 2009, pp.118-120). In order to thoroughly evaluate this eLearning program effectively, several methods will be employed: (1) focus groups comprised of participants and non-participants, (2) online surveys, (3) participant course evaluations and reflections, (4) course management system usage data, (5) perception data, and (6) observations of increased integrated technology use in instructional practice, to name just a few. The program’s “return on investment”-type benefits can ultimately be expressed as a more tangible value in the growth of increased use of integrated technology in instructional practice, or the change in before/after measurements (such as increased CSAP performance of students). Intangible benefits can’t always be assigned a dollar value, but are equally important to discuss and document, such as increased faculty morale and improvements in teamwork (Kruse, 2004). Change Effort/Leadership Factors Planned support and intervention during a change effort can be achieved by addressing the “human side” of the equation by: involving every layer, creating ownership, working within the established culture, speaking to the individual and preparing for the unexpected (Lynch and Roecker, 2007, pp. 133-136). Full participation, inclusion and respect for the participants will be honored by allowing teachers to construct their own learning communities (Partnerships for 21st Century Skills, 2004), with everyone working at their own pace, guaranteeing access anytime /anywhere, embedding the learning into existing professional development rotations (not additional time), offering the ability to “make and take” immediately into classroom practice, and of course, celebrating successes.
  11. 11. - 11 - Examples of technical, procedural and informational support for participants include opportunities for face- to-face and online collaboration, regular training/IT support throughout the instruction process, faculty web page, job aids, screencasts and podcasts, PD-360, and a resource gallery that showcases best practice and highlights anchor work products. Leadership and support roles bolster the eLearning program by bringing leadership and faculty together in the same learning process. The principal will participate in the eLearning with the staff and is the key sponsor and visionary for school improvement, with the “Wyn/Wyn” philosophy (“what you need/when you need it”) and will help to cultivate positive buy-in and reinforce participation through a previously established culture of trust. The district’s Technology Academy liaison and grade level teacher leaders will offer peer support, as participants collaborate with grade level teams or content-alike peers. Resistance is inevitable, but planning for ways to deal with resistance proactively will lessen that resistance. This faculty honors a professional attitude, and are eager to support growth of professional practice that can lead to increased student achievement. The initial pilot is aimed at volunteers, and the entire faculty is offered a choice of continuing solely on PD-360 or participating in the pilot eLearning program - both are methods of eLearning. The style of project management gives participants a voice throughout the process with multiple collaborative and consultative feedback opportunities, where all requests and concerns are considered (Lynch and Roecker, 2007, pp. 129- 131). Once building-wide agreements are established, it is easier to make clear to learners what behaviors are acceptable through a collaboration policy (Horton, 2006, p.488). Methods for gauging success include monitoring the implementation of best practice resulting in the increased performance of students (through data summary reports), faculty perception data, usage data, and increased use of integrated technology in instructional practice (see evaluation section for further examples). References Fee, K. (2009). Delivering E-Learning – A complete strategy for design, application and assessment. Horton, W. (2006). E-Learning by Design. Khan, B. (2004). The People- Process- Product Continuum in E-Learning: The E-Learning P3 Model. Educational Technology, Vol. 44, No.5, September-October. Retrieved from http://cu.ecollege.com, November, 2009 Kruse, K. (2004). “Measuring E-learning’s Benefits”. Retrieved from http://www.e-learningguru.com, November, 2009.
  12. 12. - 12 - Lynch, M. M. and Roecker, J. (2007). Project Managing E-Learning. Retrieved from http://cu.ecollege.com, November, 2009. Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2004). Retrieved from http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/; October, 2009.

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