Online learning is becoming the conventional way educators participate in professional development. Family demands, childcare costs and transportation expense mean a boost for distance learning. Because of the interactive and collaborative technology tools available and innovative learning platforms, educators across the world are taking advantage of the conveniences online learning provides. Furthermore, research tells us learning outcomes for online education are as good or as better than those for face-to-face instruction. It seems every college or district offers some type of online learning for their students and teachers. The delivery and learning models are different from program to program, but I feel one of the best ways teachers can meet professional development goals is through a product from IO Education called CaseNEX PD.
I have facilitated all types of literacy and gifted courses for CaseNEX PD, but my online teaching began working for my district. I then moved to be one of the Head Facilitators at the University of Central Florida and other universities and colleges. As an online facilitator, my goal is to foster a deepening of knowledge and cultivate a culture of collegiality with knowledge and experience sharing. Of course, my passion for teaching and learning have a great deal to do with my job as an online teacher.
One reason I feel CaseNEX PD does a superb job is because you find facilitators acknowledging the wealth of experiences that educators bring to the course. Facilitation is key in online learning. Effective facilitators have to feel comfortable about accommodating individual learning styles and addressing the needs of adult learners. If we are going to plant new ideas and generate topics for discussion and be a support in the course, knowledge and experience are very important. It’s critical to apply core pedagogical principles to the facilitation of online learning because often our role as facilitators requires clarification of misconceptions; often we are able to provide insights and contributions of a specific nature like when we are probing to encourage student responses.
In addition, CaseNEX PD methodology takes information and theory and makes it relevant to learners because of the unique case methods and classroom scenarios that maximize learning. Students study the cases, review the research and evidence, and then determine the issues, perspectives, intervention or actions and consequences. The case scenarios simulate situations relevant to teachers. CaseNEX PD provides opportunities for student learners to examine data, collaborate about the scenarios, connect to personal experiences, and really delve into problem solving using creative and critical thinking skills.
Finally, CaseNEX PD is collaboration. I think we create a context of collaboration by offering guidance about reading strategies and their relevance in each participant’s specific area of work thereby making the content more personally meaningful. No matter what we teach, we are all teachers of reading so whether you are in special education, high school, or an administrator, CaseNEX PD is relevant. Initiatives, policy decisions and change require collaboration and CaseNEX PD gives participants the tools to view all perspectives of the issues. We provide constructive and extensive feedback and encourage interaction so participants can learn about the concepts of reading and advance their understanding. Adult learners have had a lifetime of experiences. Adults want to use what they know and want to be acknowledged for having that knowledge. But it’s more than that; it’s who they are as individuals. Technology-based instruction must provide opportunities to use that knowledge. The case studies, collaboration, and reflective discussions facilitate the application of their expertise so the diversity of the students’ in the course actually enhances the learning.
CaseNEX PD does a phenomenal job of delivering quality professional development because of knowledgeable facilitators, the CaseNEX PD methodology itself, and the online collaboration that fosters motivation and collegiality.
This guest post was written by Nancy Tondreault, Teacher, Pinellas County Schools, FL