e-Learning for Educators
Grant Activities

1. Develop e-Learning for Educators implementation plans and programs within each state.

The key criterion of success of the proposed initiative is the establishment, within each state, of a successful e-Learning for Educators program that will help address state-wide teacher quality needs and have impact on student achievement. During the first few months of the initiative, each state will select its implementation team with representatives from the State Education Agency (SEA), Public Broadcasting Station, and other relevant organizations they choose to involve, such as school districts, universities, or regional education service providers. This team will attend, along with the teams from other states, a 4-day working institute in which they will focus on developing an e-Learning for Educators plan for their state. The team from each state will then be responsible for refining and implementing its plan, with continued support from both their peers in other states and from project consultants. They will work with the evaluation team to monitor the success of their plan, and make ongoing improvements as the work proceeds.

Once each initial state plan is formulated and the program launched, each state team will be responsible for the ongoing improvement of its plan and implementation. The individual state program goals for each year of the initiative, at a very general level, are as follows:

Year 1: Train online instructors and launch with existing e-learning courses, providing 25 courses for 500 teachers per state;

Year 2: Continue training instructors, begin training online course developers, and expand the program to at least 50 courses and 1,000 teachers per state while using initial evaluation results to improve it;

Year 3: Continue to grow and improve the program while adding e-learning courses developed by state teams to address specific state needs;

Year 4: Use evaluation data to inform the growth and improvement of the program and begin planning to sustain it after the completion of the grant funding; and

Year 5: Transition the program to be sustained after the completion of the grant funding.

2. Develop a multi-state e-learning collaboration to support the individual state programs.

The purpose of the multi-state collaboration is to provide resources and expertise to support the development of effective e-Learning for Educators programs in each state. Cross-state collaboration enables there to be common standards, so that e-learning content can be shared across states. Cross-state collaboration also enables state teams to learn from each other, to share ideas and resources, and to serve as “critical friends” to provide peer reviews of plans, courses and dissemination materials.

An Initiative Management Group, comprised of representatives from each state, will set priorities for the overall initiative, develop processes for making resources available across the states, and establish working committees to define technical and design standards as well as core content requirements for courses to be used across the states.

3. Define e-learning course technical and design standards to insure consistency and quality.

The Initiative Management Group will appoint two committees from the partner organizations to define standards for the e-learning courses. The Technical Committee will be responsible for selecting the core learning management system (LMS) to be used by the initiative and for defining the technical standards for the e-learning courses. The Design Committee will define the design standards for the e-learning courses. Each committee will complete its task in Year 1 of the project, and then reconvene in Year 3 to review and update the technical and design standards.

4. Build state capacity to deliver effective e-learning courses by training e-learning instructors.

The training program for e-Learning Instructors will be provided by EDC, based upon their nationally known capacity-building EdTech Leaders Online program which has trained over 1000 e-Learning Instructors. In Year 1, 24 educators from each state will participate in the e-Learning Instructor training program, with an additional 12 educators from each state participating in each of Years 2-5, for a total of 72 per state and 576 across all 8 states.

5. Launch state e-Learning for Educators programs with existing content.

The plans for this implementation will be developed at the start of the initiative, during the fall and winter of 2005; the technical infrastructure will be put into place during this same period, and the first group of e-Learning Instructors will be trained during the winter. Therefore, each state will be ready to launch its local e-Learning for Educators program during the spring of 2006, toward the end of the first year of the initiative. These initial state program launches will use existing e-learning content. In states with already existing pilot programs, initiative launch will begin in Fall 2005, utilizing existing e-learning content and already trained facilitators.

EDC’s EdTech Leaders Online program will make available 30 e-learning courses, each of which is standards-based and comprised of 6 sessions requiring approximately 24 hours of work time by the participating teachers. These courses address a wide variety of topics across K-12 grade levels and subject areas, including universally applicable content such as Finding the Best Educational Resources on the Web and Differentiating Instruction to Accommodate Learning Styles; and content for specific grades and subject areas, such as Helping Struggling Readers Improve Comprehension and Using Technology in the Elementary Math Class. Another alternative, if made available at reasonable cost, will be the PBS TeacherLine courses for mathematics and reading teachers. State programs will then be able to build upon that base by incorporating courses developed to meet specific local state needs and standards as they become available throughout the initiative.

The plan calls for the trained e-Learning Instructors in each state to run at least 25 courses, each comprised of 6 to 8 weeks of instruction during Year 1, and 50 courses in each of Years 2-5, for a total of 225 courses per state and 1,800 across the 8 states. After Year 1 of the initiative, states will be able to begin using additional e-learning courses, including those developed by their own teams, as described below.

6. Develop model courses for state e-Learning for Educators programs and the research project.

There are certain content areas and grade levels for which professional development is a high priority across all participating states. Early reading, reading comprehension in the upper elementary and middle school grades, writing instruction, and upper-elementary and middle school mathematics are tested in all states. To address these topics, the Initiative Management Group will convene a cross-state Content Committee that will select key content areas that are needed by all participating states. These areas will then be the focus of the initial e-learning courses developed, and these same courses will be used in the research project. The development teams for these courses will include content experts selected by the SEAs, video production teams from the Stations, and expert e-learning developers from EDC. These courses will be aligned to national and state content standards and developed according to the initiative technical and design standards so that they can serve as models to inform the development of additional courses by state teams as part of the initiative. The plan calls for the development of 12 of these courses in Year 1, and 6 more in Year 2. These courses will be used in the research studies that will begin in Years 2 and 3. After Year 2, all further course development will be done by state teams.

7. Build state capacity to develop e-learning courses by training e-Learning Course Developers.

The training program for e-Learning Course Developers will also be provided by the EDC EdTech Leaders Online program. The developer training course is more fully detailed in Section (c) 2, where the professional development services are described. In Year 2, 24 educators from each state will participate in the e-Learning Instructor training program, with an additional 12 educators from each state participating in each of Years 3-5, for a total of 60 per state and 480 across all 8 states.

8. Develop e-learning courses to address specific student achievement needs within each state.

Upon completion of the e-Learning Course Development training, teams from within each state will develop content to address specific state student achievement needs. Course Developers will be able to share information, provide support for each other, and obtain support from EDC staff through the ongoing forum in which they participate while developing courses. The courses developed will follow the technical and design specifications developed earlier by the initiative’s Technical and Design Committees. Cross-state peer groups will be formed to provide support for the development teams, including reviews of courses. The initiative plans call for the development teams within each state to develop at least 6 courses in Year 2 of the project, and 4 courses in each of Years 3-5, for a total of 18 courses per state or 144 across the 8 states.

9. Evaluate implementation and research impact on teacher quality and student achievement.

An annual evaluation on the effectiveness and quality of the e-Learning for Educators components, and a large-scale randomized research project on the impact of the initiative on teacher quality and student achievement, will be conducted by Boston College Technology and Assessment Study Collaborative.

10. Disseminate initiative resources and results.

There are four major audiences for the planned dissemination activities: other public broadcasting stations that include providing professional development as part of their work; other SEAs, as well as LEAs and regional education services providers that are interested in developing their own e-Learning for Educators programs; educational researchers interested in e-Learning; and educational policymakers. All partner organizations will participate in the dissemination activities, each focusing on specific audiences.

The key information resources developed by the initiative, including descriptions of the approaches and strategies in each state, the standards developed by the project, the evaluation and research project reports, presentations and articles about state programs, and collections of lessons learned about effective practices for online professional development, will all be made available on a project website. Project participants, from the stations, states, EDC, and Boston College, will arrange to present at national, regional and local conferences, and will write articles to be submitted to journals for administrators, teachers, and researchers. Boston College will take primary responsibility for publications and presentations to the research community; EDC will take responsibility for dissemination to state educational technology directors and professional development leaders, through organizations such as SETDA, NSDC, and ASCD. The partner stations will disseminate information to other stations throughout the country.

In addition, three organizations have agreed to support the dissemination effort. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a compact of 16 member states, will disseminate information to policymakers through its Educational Technology Cooperative. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) will disseminate information through its Technology Leadership Network, which provides online courses to its network of over 400 school districts. Bill Thomas, SREB Director of Technology, and Ann Flynn, NSBA Director of Educational Technology, will serve on the initiative advisory board. The eMINTS National Center, which will be a key partner in the Missouri state program, will help disseminate the project resources to other states using the eMINTS program, which currently includes Utah, Minnesota, and Maine.

The contents of this handout were developed under a grant from the Department of Education. However these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. 100% of the total costs of the program are financed with Federal money.