Utilization: Professional Experiences
Assistant Executive Director, e-Learning and Government Partnerships, National Science Teachers Association
There are many facets of my responsibility at NSTA that necessitate the utilization of processes and resources for learning. Assisting educators in diagnosing their needs and selecting resources based on their preference and mode of learning is paramount within the NSTA Learning Center. Even within specific resources, such as the free Science Objects, embedded questions and a quiz at the end of each science objects helps guide the learner and provide formative feedback on learning.
Below you'll also see examples of protocols and data to assist administrators in tracking teacher growth through the Learning Center, as well as established protocols for adoption with case studies of various Learning Center state and district deployments.
Significant work is on-going to help diffuse the Learning Center's e-PD resources with targeted marketing campaigns, peer-reviewed articles and awareness pieces to organizations outside of our own like ASCD. Most recently two separate grant applications to NASA that seek to disseminate and utilize the Learning Center's tools and e-PD resources and opportunities were submitted in the fall of 2008. In January 2009 the Learning Center will deploy state standard correlation alignment of all 3,000 assets within the Learning Center to the 50 states across the country.
I manage portal planning components of the NSTA Learning Center that included dissemination and adoption strategies through the beta release and the formal launch in April 2008. This e-PD portal is evolving and incorporating the latest innovations and e-Learning diffusion strategies from books such as Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and The Long Tail by Chris Anderson and the OER movement sponsored by the Hewlett Foundation. It also looks at web 2.0 technologies and existing and emerging education portal and their usage statistics. These data drive the strategic direction of the NSTA Learning Center and are captured in several PowerPoint presentations, a) AlByers_NSTA_e-strategy.ppt, and b) LearningCommunities_web2.0.ppt. It is these strategies that show up within the e-PD portal tool features and the "viral" capabilities such as RSS feeds, Most Viewed, Emailed, Rank and Recommend, etc.
Learning Center Promotional Overviews
I designed and delivered numerous NSTA Learning Center professional presentations, as well as electronic multimedia overview pieces for both the beta release (that focused on science objects), and the formal launch, which focused more on the overall NSTA Learning Center e-PD system.
For the Learning Center piece, we catered to both educators and administrator with two separate versions of the Learning Center overview. I was producer for both of these multimedia pieces, and managed all facets of concept development, drafting of the initial script, selecting and reviewing media, managing the outsource development and editorial review process and budget. Adoption strategies for the Learning Center also include print brochures for the educator and administrator, and electronic communication to over 300,000 via NSTA Express, a weekly electronic newsletter. For the print pieces I provide editorial review to our marketing department.
Standard Alignment of Resources and Opportunities
To better facilitate adoption, we also are aligning all our resources to the 50 state standards. I drafted our standards correlation RFP and managed the review, selection, and implementation process for this project working with Ryan Foley, Director of Systems Development. We selected SixThings for this service. In light of NCLB and individual school accountability, facilitating the alignment of learning resources to the individual state standards is paramount for adoption utilization. Significant work and quality control is essential to ensure an appropriate presentation of resources appear across all disciplines, grades, and states' science content standards.
Learning Center Tools and Support Resources
To facilitate the selection and utilization of PD resources and opportunities within the NSTA Learning Center we have a suite of free PD tools to assist educators in their PD needs. One tool is a PD Indexer which assists teachers in assessing their PD needs. It is a voluntary diagnostic tool where teachers may select content areas they desire which ultimately recommends a list of targeted resources and opportunities for consideration. The PD Indexer tool specifically recommends SciPacks and Science Objects. Significant effort is ongoing into the planning, development, and functionality of this tool both as a aid for individual teachers and as a pre/post assessment for district and state administrators desiring a level of accountability to document teacher growth in content knowledge.
There is also a Library tool that allows teachers to create, annotate, and share their collections of resources with colleagues, and a PD Plan and Portfolio tool that helps teachers plan and document their growth over time. All of these tools work in concert to maximize the utilization of the Learning Center resources and opportunities. I conceived the original suite of interoperable tools and their descriptions/design features. These tools work cooperatively with a robust Help Desk that also permits utilization via phone support, online ticket system, and How To Guides, which I helped create. All of these features work in concert to now support the 25,000 users who have added over 138,000 assets across their individual libraries within the Learning Center.
State, District, and Organization Deployments
Utilization of the Learning Center is also facilitated through key state and district partnerships, where its value may be institutionalized as part of the existing system. Over 22 various state, district and organization deployments are using the Learning Center, many as part of their US Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership. The West Virginia Department of Education is in its third year of strategic deployment. Others, like Go Zero-G utilize the Learning Center to prepare teachers prior to their microgravity flight experience. The State Department of Education in New Hampshire is exploring alternative teacher certification utilizing the Learning Center and several universities are looking at the Learning Center to support their perservice elementary teacher course requirements. I also submit grants to foundations like GE or NASA that seek to
leverage deployment of the Learning Center and its resources and opportunities.
SciPacks, Science Objects and SciGuides all employ an asynchronous delivery mode, and various multimedia assets and end-user feedback and control features to facilitate utilization of the resources. SciPacks/Science Objects employ an inquiry-based instructional design that draws on the cognitive load literature as it embeds interactives, formative assessment questions, and re-directs via SCORM features inherent within the LCMS. With the addition of Flash simulations and QuickTime movies the SciPacks dynamically leverage all facets of digital media to facilitate learning.
We also created a SciPack Email Content Wizard System, that is poised for promotion and utilization. Finally, to facilitate institutionalization, a final assessment is available at the completion of each SciPack. If a learner passes the final assessment, he or she receives a listing in their Transcript tool with a "certificate" documenting the completion of the SciPack.
The NSTA Learning Center has an architecture that allows learners to search based on their level of need or interest, whether it be by:
- Product Type
- Learner Delivery Preference
- Discipline Content Area
- Grade Level
- National Science Standards
- State Standard
- Most View Resource
- Most Emailed Resource
- Most Reviewed Resource
The myriad of ways to locate content is made possible by the rich suite of metadata that is tagged for each resource. In addition to these search fields, we also provide metadata covering "Descriptions," "Ideas for Use," "Additional Info," and "Technical Requirements," if any. With this metadata we will be packages or collections of resources if desired. We also have created a dynamic variable algorithm that allows us to "weight" different parameters from search relevancy results and control which resources are presented "above the fold". The NSTA Metatag Tool (See Metatag PDF for screen shots) permits a rich set of descriptors to increase the usability, findability of the digital library assets within the NSTA Learning Center.
SciGuides facilitate utilization by allowing the user sort vetted web resources across areas of interest to them, such as:
- Hands-on Investigations
- Online Interactivity
The URLs have all been vetted across 8 three level analytical rubrics, which the educator can review, and are individually aligned to the national standards. Samples of student work accompany sample lesson plans to facilitate implementation of the lesson. I helped facilitate focus groups that drove the specifications for these features while project director of the program during its early development. Diffusion was originally facilitated through a 2.5 minute Flash multimedia overview of SciGuide that has now been updated with multimedia Flash overview on the product overview. I worked closely under Tyson Brown during these early phases of the project as a consultant. The project is now beginning to undergo a revision and improvement that will include video vignettes of lessons being do in situ.