Michigan district enhances PD through virtual training and e-learning
Many school districts struggle to provide professional development for teachers. The time and expense of in-person classes can be cost-prohibitive, but keeping teachers trained is critical today. K12 schools in the Shiawassee Regional Education Service District (SRESD) in Michigan are applying technologies like video, multimedia and the Internet to make training more available to and engaging for teachers.
"With Adobe Connect, we can bring teachers together from across the state and provide them with high-quality, virtual professional development sessions that are just as effective as in-person sessions," says Carolyn McCarthy, educational technology coordinator for SRESD and an Adobe Education Leader. "It's a convenient way for educators to access valuable training content and for schools to defray the costs of professional development."
In 2007, McCarthy and 55 other educational technology coordinators at Intermediate School Districts (ISDs) in Michigan found that attendance at professional development offerings had declined steeply. With Adobe Connect, McCarthy and her colleagues can circumvent logistical and financial concerns and participate in a rich, intuitive virtual learning environment featuring live chat, polling, integrated audio and video, screen-sharing and more with just a free Adobe Flash Player.
Says McCarthy, "Adobe Connect has helped us bridge the gap and enable educators statewide to participate without spending money on gas and lodging or missing valuable in-class time." The product also helps reduce schools’ carbon footprints.
Through Adobe Connect's virtual professional development sessions, teachers can earn graduate and State credits. Administrators leverage the solution for both e-learning and web conferencing, enabling cost-effective, productive meetings while significantly reducing travel costs. Frequently, up to 30 participants at a time are able to attend regional conferences remotely.
"Adobe Connect helps us use our time more efficiently and be more productive," says McCarthy. "We can often complete a meeting or training session in the same amount of time it would take for some people to drive and attend in person."
McCarthy and others have begun implementing the solution’s recording capabilities for future playback and potentially closed-captioning for hearing impaired audience members. The note pad feature enables users to contribute their items to the master agenda and reveal them to the group at the appropriate time, which helps facilitate smoother, more organized and efficient meetings.
Adobe Connect is now used in 27 regional education media centers (REMC) across the state. In response to a survey McCarthy created to gauge user satisfaction, comments broadly praised the intuitiveness and time-saving characteristics of the solution.
Says Melissa White, supervisor of media and technology at Ingham Intermediate School District, "I could not live without it. I use it daily in my work. I have saved so much time and money by not traveling to meetings this year. It makes it so easy to troubleshoot problems now with teachers and technical staff."
"Districts across the state, and in several other states, have taken note of the cost savings and efficiency we’ve gained with Adobe Connect and have approached us about consulting on their professional development programs," says McCarthy.
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