Many companies and organizations offer targeted, technology-infused professional development. Such courses, which cover a vast range of topics, can help teachers and administrators improve specific parts of their practice. The courses take many formats. Some are entirely online; others are offered as face-to-face training, with participants receiving follow-up support through webinars and online professional networks. Some are self-paced, while others are facilitated over a set number of weeks. Many can be taken for graduate credit, continuing education units, or professional-development points. Here are some of the K-12 offerings.
Virtual High School Collaborative (VHS)
Purpose: The VHS Collaborative is a nonprofit group based in Maynard, Mass., that offers co-synchronous online and blended courses for middle school and high school students in the United States and in other countries. Co-synchronous learning is when a group of students and a teacher learn together in online classrooms over a scheduled period of time with regular assignments, but they don’t have to log in to the course at the same time. The organization also offers facilitated online professional-development courses for teachers and administrators.
Professional Development: The VHS Collaborative offers several professional-development opportunities. One program is its 21st Century Teaching Best Practices courses. This series of five, co-synchronous online courses focuses on how teachers can integrate technology into their classrooms. Courses cover a range of topics, such as teaching students digital literacy skills, incorporating online resources into lessons, and using Web tools that can enhance student learning. Each class lasts six weeks.
Cost: $175 per course for educators who teach at VHS member schools; $275 per course for teachers at nonmember schools
The VHS also offers the “blended model” series of courses, which are three-week-long online classes that focus on topics such as how to find and use open educational resources, how to create a blended classroom, and how to create technology-rich teaching environments.
Cost: $99 per course for member schools; $139 per course for nonmember schools
EdTech Leaders Online (ETLO)
Purpose: ETLO is part of the Education Development Center (EDC), an international nonprofit organization based in Waltham, Mass., that addresses challenges in education, health, and economic development. The EDC manages 250 projects around the world.
Professional Development: ETLO offers several professional-development programs. One is a 15-month facilitators’ program in which participants are trained to facilitate online courses; in the second half of the program, they choose one of ETLO’s 70 educator courses to facilitate for educators and administrators within their own organizations. These educator courses run for four to six sessions and include content with Web-based readings and resources, interactive multimedia activities, and a culminating final project. The group also offers a 15-month program in which participants learn how to develop their own online courses and, through a practicum, teach their developed courses to participants. In addition, the organization offers shorter, seven-week courses for teachers to learn how to teach in online and blended learning environments.
Cost: $675 per class for the seven-week online and blended learning courses; varying costs for the online-facilitator and -developer programs
Purpose: Discovery Education, a subsidiary of the Silver Spring, Md.-based media company Discovery Communications, offers teachers digital content, interactive lessons, real-time assessments, classroom contests and challenges, and professional development.Professional Development: Discovery Education focuses its professional development on the following areas: digital literacy, curriculum and instruction integration, technology integration, assessment, follow up support, and student/parent workshops. The training is available to districts and uses a variety of formats, including traditional professional-development days, Saturday academies, train-the-trainer models, webinars, and in-classroom model-lesson demonstrations. Districts that participate can receive follow-up training and support through webinars and by becoming members of the Discovery Educator Network, one of the largest professional learning communities in the United States.
Cost: Varies, depending on the types of professional development districts want. As a guideline, one day of on-site professional development is generally $2,500 for a six-hour session with one of the company’s instructors. Follow-up webinars are sold in packages of three one-hour sessions for $450.
Purpose: Intel Teach, part of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp., focuses on helping K–12 teachers of any subject engage students in digital learning.
Professional Development: Intel Teach offers a series of online courses called Elements courses, which are short, free classes that help teachers use Web 2.0 applications, social networking, and online tools and resources. Each self-paced, self-study course is broken into modules that contain several lessons and follow-up activities. Schools can integrate the courses into on-site professional development, and Intel Teach provides supplementary materials, such as discussion questions and quizzes.
Purpose: Funded by the Annenberg Foundation, Washington-based Annenberg Learner uses media and telecommunications to help teachers improve their practice. As part of its mission, the program distributes video programs with coordinated Web and print materials for K-12 teachers.Professional Development: Workshop and course resources consist of video, print, and Web components that can be used in a study group with a facilitator or by individual teachers for self-study. Video programs are available as “video on demand” (VoD), and print guides are available in printable PDF formats. Examples of workshops and courses include: Making Meaning in Literature, Essential Science for Teachers, and Teaching Foreign Languages. Videos also can be purchased as DVDs.
Purpose: A division of the Arlington, Va.-based Public Broadcasting Service, PBS TeacherLine offers more than 80 graduate-level facilitated online courses for teachers that span the K-12 curriculum.
Professional Development: Courses cover topics in reading, math, science, and technology; many are aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Examples of courses include: Building Critical Thinking Skills for Online Research, Inquiry Based Learning in the Classroom, and Math in Everyday Life.
Cost: Varies by course
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
Purpose: ISTE is a Washington-based membership association for educators and education leaders interested in improving teaching and learning by using technology more effectively in K-12 schools and in teacher education.
Professional Development: The organization offers several online professional-development courses. Each course is developed by educational technology experts and built around the National Educational Technology Standards—standards for learning, teaching, and leading schools in the digital age that were outlined by the U.S. Department of Education. Some courses, called Learning Labs, are self-paced, while other courses are facilitated and last from six to eight weeks. Classes are built around topics such as Web 2.0, digital storytelling, and project-based learning.
Cost: Varies by course