With schools adopting new technology to move virtually, teacher professional development has become an even higher priority. However, the traditional ways in which districts provide training are also no longer possible. The last thing teachers want to do at this point is to sit through a bunch of video calls or watch pre-recorded videos.
Last summer, we partnered with Cobb County to build a customized, gamified, training experience that allowed over 200 teachers to learn new STEM concepts. We interviewed Dr. Sally Creel, Division of Teaching and Learning, for Cobb County on her experience with the virtual training.
Learn more about Cobb County's STEM program here: www.stemcobb.com
Why did you decide to implement iSchool Initiative's Virtual Learning program?
We weren’t sure what exactly we wanted to do, but we knew we had to act and act differently to meet the needs of our stakeholders in our new learning environment. We brainstormed a list of partners we had worked with in the past that might be able to help us flesh out our ideas and vision to jump into the world of meaningful professional learning in a virtual environment. iSchool came to the top of the list quickly. “
How was your experience working with their staff to produce a customized training experience?
“We scheduled a call with their team to try to articulate what we wanted to accomplish. Within a short amount of time we were able to synthesize our rather nebulous vision into a fun innovative game-based learning approach to professional learning. “
What value do you believe the experience provided to your teachers?
“This VL experience encapsulated everything we wanted. Our teachers had choice, voice and engagement using a virtual platform. We were able to blend the VL experience into live sessions we offered weekly. Teachers liked having options and the opportunity to network with peers through gameplay. Not all of them chose to “play” the game and that was ok with us. We just wanted them to be able to access content and skills they wanted/needed to positively impact learning in their classrooms. “
How do you think this experience compared to the alternative virtual PD or virtual video calls for training?
“The beauty of this program is that it provides structure without a box. There is a format to follow for the gameplay, but the structure can be adapted and configured to meet a multitude of learning outcomes. I believe that the this was a key piece that made this resource successful with our stakeholders who had been thrown into chaos in March. Yes, we were still learning remotely, but there was a sense of order and an underlying structure that helped teachers feel supported – not limited throughout. “
Would you recommend other districts currently consider using this solution? If so, why?
“As we brought in more stakeholders from the district office to create content it was clear that some of us were still struggling with finding that balance for remote professional learning. The iSchool team was there to walk each of us through the process and gently guide us along the way. Their insights, questions and suggestions helped us craft a much stronger content than we ever could have alone. “
If you want to learn more about virtual learning and hear more from Sally, join her and the iSchool team for a webinar this week. Register here: https://www.ischoolinitiative.com/post-pandemic-workforce-webinar