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Amy Jane Priest University of Colorado-Denver
Priest eLearning Proposal
Organizational Need for Change
ELearning is an approach to learning that uses technology to achieve and enhance learning. The lack of time and resources in the Montrose County School District to train educators on how to utilize instructional technology is a challenge. One solution would be the implementation of a self-paced, blended learning course designed for educators. As an ongoing professional development program, teachers could experience existing technologies and then integrate them into their instructional practices. The district has adopted the professional learning community, PLC, as a model, to ensure that students learn through a collaborative culture focused on results (DuFour, 2004). DuFour’s (2004) concept “requires the school staff to focus on learning rather than teaching, work collaboratively on matters related to learning, and hold itself accountable for the kind of results that fuel continual improvement” (p.11). This eLearning proposal would fulfill those goals by requiring educators to learn about technology tools, collaborating to apply the information learned in their course in order to increase overall student achievement. I would propose piloting this eLearning solution at Centennial Middle School, because this school setting and context would be effective for an eLearning solution.
Setting and Context
The administrators at Centennial Middle School have a history of supporting the use of technology for learning. The former principal motivated staff to embrace change and now oversees technology for the district. The current principal has continued this vision, primarily placing emphasis on enhancing instruction and looking at systemic improvement. She sees “pockets of teachers who are doing whatever it takes to ensure student learning, moving forward, and being interested in growing” (N. Alex, personal communication, October 26, 2009). An instructional leadership team, composed of teachers who have an interest in continuous improvement, is already in place. One member of this instructional leadership team, the instructional media librarian, is working diligently to build relationships with staff and is helping them to integrate technology into their teaching. According to the administration, her work is receiving a positive response. At least half of the staff could be described as ”digital natives,” already familiar with many of the benefits of technology. Although seemingly frustrated by the lack of equipment and software to make technology integration easier, many teachers have expressed a desire to use technology more effectively.
Purpose and Rationale
ELearning’s purpose in the Montrose County School District has yet to be defined. The superintendent states on the district’s website that “using technology as a tool to gather, process and present information is fast becoming a requirement in today's world” (Voorhis, n.d.). Technology, however, is more than just an informational tool. According to Dr. Bassoppo-Moyo (2006): In creating a vision statement for eLearning, one should envisage a learning environment where the use of information and communications technology is regarded as an integral part of the target population's everyday practices and educational administration. The vision statement should acknowledge the potential of eLearning to impact on learning outcomes for all students and the work habits of all staff. (p. 12)
Priest eLearning Proposal
The school board and accreditation goal concerning technology is to maintain and incorporate relevant technology to meet district standards and goals. This can be interpreted as the district’s only vision statement regarding technology. This vision is extremely limited, and the potential for eLearning in the district has yet to be realized. Technology has value in the district, but it currently is not a significant part of instructional practices. According to the curriculum philosophy, though, “technology is an integral component in our instructional practices” (Montrose County School District [MCSD], 2009, p.7). Interestingly, an analysis of the curriculum and instruction budget over the last five years shows that the assessment budget has increased 28% while the technology budget has decreased 23% (MCSD, 2009). Of course, some of the funding for these programs come from Title funds, but the staff development budget for this school year is 10% of the assessment budget and only 3% of the technology budget, a mere $4,900 for the entire district of 850 employees (MCSD, 2009). The amount of money budgeted for staff development in the current school year is $5.76 per employee. If funding is an indicator of where the district places value, then there is a gap. Technology has been mostly used in the district for data collection and assessment. The same efforts to move the district forward in using informational technology should now be applied to create a sustainable model for staff development. Jones et al. (1995) said, “Schools cannot invest in technologies alone. They must also invest in ongoing professional development, training and support services” (p.45). Now is the time to invest in teachers, as they can directly broaden the district’s mission. The district’s mission statement is in partnership with our parents and communities, our mission is that all students will learn at their optimal level. Specifically, the mission statement of Centennial Middle School is Centennial Middle School will inspire its students to be life long learners through positive relationships, professional commitment, and a dedication to excellence. The goal statement is Never Quit! The difference between ordinary and extraordinary…is that little extra! If the district wants students to learn at their optimal level and Centennial specifically wants to inspire its students to be life long learners, an eLearning initiative focused on professional development for teachers would shift the district focus from using technology for information to using it for instruction. By modeling their own learning for students, instructors could have a major impact on student achievement.
Advantages and Disadvantages
An effectively designed and implemented elearning program would have several advantages. According to Kozloski (2006), “Technology is now ingrained in our society…schools need to use it with students as an integrated tool to help enhance the bottom line in education, increased student achievement (p.5). Helping to expand the district’s mission, at the heart of this proposal is raising student achievement. Choosing an eLearning approach can be extremely cost effective. The budget in this proposal is mostly for the design and planning phases in the first year, but the budget would decrease considerably in the second year, especially if the program were implemented as part of the contractual professional learning community, PLC, meetings. ELearning offers choices that can deliver learning to many people in a relatively short time period. ELearning can incorporate multimedia, adapting to different learning styles, among
Priest eLearning Proposal
adult learners. Using a variety of tools and methods, it offers flexibility and convenience for staff development opportunities. Given time to explore on their own and in collaborative learning environments, teachers can develop new knowledge and skill sets that can directly impact their pedagogy. Embracing eLearning is the first step to take toward a systemic change in a district wide integration of technology. Trentin (2007) stated that “…elearning may have the potential to play a role in establishing a new culture favoring and supporting all learning processes” (p. 3). When teachers learn and have time to reflect, they can become better teachers. eLearning can help establish a collaborative culture, in alignment with the district’s vision toward becoming a professional learning community. Obviously, eLearning can help establish a collaborative culture, but its implementation will be met by several challenges. First, some educators have limited experience with technology and may not immediately recognize the value in eLearning. Quality eLearning requires time and collaboration, both of which burdens educators with already “too much on their plates.” Secondly, the convenience of “anytime, anywhere” learning will extend their professional duties beyond the school day, which may be met with resistance from staff. Others may resist the program just because they fear change. For example, some educators have spent years developing lesson plans and collecting curricular materials. They may wonder why they have to do anything differently. They have seen educational trends come and go, so they wonder why they should devote time and energy to learning about technology. They already feel effective in their content area, and technology is not an area of their expertise. Individual ideas about effective teaching practices may be difficult to overcome. Finally, support for technology involves many stakeholders. The public and community may not understand eLearning and will need to be convinced of the value throughout the process. To create a sustainable program, strong leadership is needed to drive this initiative. Turnover is inevitable in any organization. Changes in leadership may require new directions for the program.
1. Upon completion of two PLC meetings and completion of the first module of a self-paced eLearning course, 100% of teachers at Centennial Middle School will identify and define eLearning based on a four-point rubric. 2. Upon completion of the second module of a self-paced eLearning course, at least 80% of staff at Centennial Middle School will explain a school site problem for which eLearning could provide a solution. 3. Upon completion of the third module of a self-paced eLearning course combined with two collaborative work sessions, 25% of staff will research trends in elearning and educational uses for technology and then compare technological tools for a solution. 4. Upon completion of five collaborative work sessions, 25% of staff will create professional development activities that will model and teach the use of at least three eLearning tools. 5. Upon completion of three PLC meetings, 100% of teachers at Centennial Middle School will apply the three eLearning tools in classroom lessons and assess their effectiveness.
I will be using a self-paced, blended learning model utilizing complementary resources to build my design for learning. Based on Fee's (2009) second model, supported online training along with complementary resources would best facilitate a pilot program for eLearning at
Priest eLearning Proposal
Centennial Middle School. The constructive perspective with a social focus model would best support the learning context. Having already used the collaborative learning model and inquiry process in the structure of our weekly professional learning communities, or PLCs, most staff would benefit from a similar eLearning design. JISC (2004) found:
What is important to the successful adoption of e-learning is… how e-learning can be effectively integrated into and alongside established practice, to ensure that, whatever the approach and the intended learning outcomes, the learning potential of all learners is maximised. Furthermore, learning takes place in a social and curricular as well as physical context. The individual’s relationship with the group or groups that surround the learning activities will also partly define the learning outcomes (p.14). I certainly want to maximize the learning of all learners at my school site. My eLearning design approach will utilize current district and school site models that have proven the most successful both socially and in alignment with curricular objectives. Another model that I plan to use as a guide in future design is the eight-dimensional model for eLearning sustainability (Trentin, 2007, p.39). This model takes a general approach to problems in program continuity. It addresses pedagogical, professional, socio-cultural, informal, technological, economical, organizational, and content dimensions within an eLearning plan. By analyzing all of these dimensions, future development decisions will be more systemic.
Learner and Audience Analysis
My pilot program would target forty full-time certified teachers along with ten paraprofessionals at a 6-8 middle school with approximately 600 students. Although all staff will be involved in the initial rollout of professional development, only 25% of staff, ten teachers, will be working in the program development phases. From the pool of educators, 73% of teachers are currently teaching in the subject in which they hold a degree (Colorado Department of Education [CDE], 2008). Almost 40% have or are in the process of holding a masters degree. 85% have more than three years of teaching experience, and 15% have taught for less than three years (CDE, 2008). I would estimate that the staff is about evenly split between digital natives and digital immigrants. About half of the staff is comfortable with technology, although only about 10% are using it routinely in their instruction. Since I will be asking for volunteers to help in the development of the eLearning program, at this time it is difficult to analyze my training base needs. The profile of my audience is based on current information taken from last school year’s state accountability report. Voluntary participation will hopefully attract highly motivated educators, eager to learn about technology tools to integrate in the classroom.
Interesting data came from an informal survey to gauge interest in solving a problem with eLearning at our school site. On September 3, 2009 I e-mailed this question to all Centennial staff: Please identify a problem at Centennial for which eLearning might provide a solution. Staff had a week to respond to the question. Only 10% of staff answered this question. All four respondents identified reading and math as primary problem areas for which technology could provide a solution. Two of the respondents could not identify eLearning, and one
Priest eLearning Proposal
respondent wanted an operational definition for eLearning. When I e-mailed all staff this question, I just wanted to get an idea of audience needs. I also was interested in what percentage of staff would even respond; their response indicates that they might be interested in eLearning.
This data is just a snapshot of audience needs. Since only 10% of staff responded, an expectation of including only 10-25% of staff in development is realistic. Since 25% of survey respondents could identify eLearning, this is a good sample of the staff population. Upon further data analysis, I would predict that only about 25% of staff could adequately identify eLearning prior to training. In informal conversations with school staff, teachers want meaningful professional development that will allow them to expand their knowledge and skills used directly in the classroom. To illustrate, when I offered a technology in-service three years ago, I had twelve staff members volunteer to participate. 100% of the participants responded favorably to the experience, and about half wanted more time to explore uses for technology. As long as the training offers teaching strategies that they can immediately apply, teachers will be interested in instructional technology.
The district has no formal mission or vision for eLearning, although technology is supposed to be a “component of our instructional practices” (MCSD, 2009, p.2). The district focus for PLC has been curriculum alignment and the building of common assessments. Overall, the district has focused on assessment, especially the use of data to drive instructional practices. Now that teachers have a knowledge base for curriculum, data, and assessment, it is time to prioritize skill development. Many of the students today already know more about technology than their teachers, and this is detrimental to the educational process (Levin & Arafeh, 2002). If the district’s mission truly is to ensure that all students learn at their optimal level, then we are certainly not optimizing their learning experiences with technology. Teachers need to be better prepared to use technologies with digital native students. ELearning can help create authentic learning experiences to engage all students to take responsibility for their own learning. Poe & Stassen found that “Two parallel processes take place in an online environment: Students become more active, reflective learners. Students and teachers engage in learning through the use of technology and become more familiar with technology by using it.” (p.5) We are not adequately preparing students for learning in the 21st Century. The National Education Technology Plan proposed the following in 2004: Teachers have more resources available through technology than ever before, but some have not received sufficient training in the effective use of technology to enhance learning. Teachers need access to research, examples and innovations as well as staff development to learn best practices. Recommendations for states, districts and individual schools include:
Improve the preparation of new teachers in the use of technology. Ensure that every teacher has the opportunity to take online learning courses.
Priest eLearning Proposal
Improve the quality and consistency of teacher education through measurement, accountability and increased technology resources (pgs. 40-41)
This eLearning proposal will address an apparent gap between rhetoric and reality. It will help prepare teachers to use technology by offering the opportunity for teachers to take a selfpaced, blended learning online course. Staff development for technology has focused primarily on informational technology, not on instructional technology. It is time to shift the focus. We have administrative leadership in Kirk Henwood, who helped drive many of the curricular reforms. The district just hired a technology instructional facilitator, the first district position of its kind. Well-trained teachers with support from stakeholders can lead systemic change, helping to bring technology in the Montrose County School District into the 21st Century learning environment.
Content Design & Development Plans
I will primarily be designing and developing the initial content, but I will not be the only person involved in the professional development process. I will define my role as project manager. I will initiate the design and development phases, but I expect to rely heavily on input and feedback from the established instructional leadership team. I plan to complete a formative evaluation of the first two modules by requesting that the instructional leadership team, along with a sample of the staff population, review the modules. Based on their assessments, I will revise the first two modules and then invite the instructional leadership team to help plan for the implementation phase. After the first two modules are introduced through PLCs, I will utilize a more collaborative approach to content development. eMentors will gradually assume responsibility for content development. The third module and collaborative work sessions will offer them some content that I personally design and develop, but I will expect them, through the exploration of technology tools, to develop the other half of the content. My role will still be defined as a project manager, but I will become more of an instructional leader and facilitator at this point. Depending on my team members, I may have to adapt to individual eMentor learner needs. I plan to use collaborative leadership to motivate eMentors, and I will expect eMentors to share the role of instructional leadership to achieve the fourth and fifth goals (Rubin, 2009). In the final phase of the program, the eMentors will be entirely responsible for the design, development, and implementation of content. Hopefully this strategy will empower eMentors to develop further content. Since new technologies are always emerging, staff involvement will lead to more professional development targeted specifically for instructional technology.
The success of this program would require administrative support. Administration can help communicate the vision for this eLearning proposal to instructional leaders. This team will be accountable for the initial content design and development decisions, so it is critical that I have their buy-in before presenting to all staff. The instructional leaders who are already interested in continuous improvement look to administration for guidance and leadership. If administration can convey the value for this program, then it will be much easier to manage resistance from staff. Administrative support will be vital to project and change management.
Priest eLearning Proposal
Fortunately, the current administration is extremely supportive of technology use in the classroom. The introduction of eLearning to the staff and professional development would contribute to overall school goals of improving student academic achievement. The program design would be similar to previously successful professional development models and would align with overall school wide goals. The principal makes many decisions using collaborative leadership, so she would definitely support collaboration among staff.
Our district does not support an LMS, so the logistics and tools will have to be carefully considered. The introduction of eLearning to staff would be feasible in the current PLC structure. Overall, the district has 1,530 computers, excluding administrative computers, and Centennial has 158 of those computers, which is the second highest number of computers at a school site in the district (MCSD, 2008, p. 26). Every staff member has a computer in the classroom. The school has a cart of twenty portable laptops. We have two computer labs, two in the south building totaling about forty computers and one with about thirty computers in the technology classroom, at least half of which were just updated this school year. Computer and Internet access for all staff members should not be an issue. Security and blockage issues would have to be thoroughly investigated prior to course development. A member of IT would need to be included in the logistics of securing online modules for staff to access. Since the former Centennial principal is now in charge of district technology, including the IT department, a rapport has already been established. His support will be important to the launch of our program. Technical issues are addressed through a “help ticket” to the IT department. If teachers have to submit help tickets for technical issues that arise throughout the first two modules, then the potential delay in response time could be a hindrance to learning (Eyberg, 2009). Since the district’s technical support is severely limited, a technical plan to “troubleshoot” issues that may arise will have to be agreed upon between the school site and IT team.
Content Design and Development Building Support for Proposal Introduction to Key Stakeholders Formative Evaluations of Modules 1, 2 Revisions to Module 1, 2 Administrative Meeting PLC: Introduction to eLearning PLC: Purpose of Module 1 Module 1: Staff Implementation IT, Technical Support Evaluation of Module 1 Instructional Leadership Team Meeting Administrative Meeting Building Support for eMentor Team Revisions to Module 3 PLC: Module 2 Hours 100 x $20 Hours 3 x $20 Hours 10 x $20 Hours 1 x $20 Hours 2 x $20 Hours 2 x $20 Hours 20 x $20 Hour 1 x $20 Hour 1 x $20 Hours 10 x $20 Hours 2 x $20 $2,000 $0 $60 $0 $200 $20 $40 $40 $400 $0 $20 $20 $200 $40
Priest eLearning Proposal
Module 2: Staff Implementation IT, Technical Support PLC: Evaluation of Module 2 Preliminary Establishment of eMentor Team Module 3: Implementation Planning/Content Development Paid Staff Development 10 people, 3 sessions of 2 hours each Establishment of eMentor Team eMentor Collaborative Work Sessions Planning/Content Development eMentor Collaborative Work Sessions
Hours 20 x $20
$400 $0 $0 $400 $1,200 $0 $200
Hours 20 x $20 Hours 60 x $20 Hours 10 x $20
PLC: Using Web 2.0 Tools in Education
Staff Implementation: Web 2.0 Tools
Total Program Cost
$0, if contractual as part of PLC time $0, if contractual as part of PLC time $0, if contractual as part of PLC time $0 $5,240
Content Design and Development
Building Support for Proposal Introduction to Key Stakeholders
-School Board Meeting -Administrative Meeting Goals: Review of Staff Survey Data Proposal Introduction Budget/Timeline Review Decision Making for Planning -Instructional Leadership Team Meeting Goals: Proposal Introduction
Jan 2010-Aug 2010 Ongoing Sept 2010
Oct 2010 By Nov 1, 2010 Nov 2010-Jan 2011 Jan 2011 Jan/Feb 2011 Jan/Feb 2011 Feb 2011-Apr 2011
Formative Evaluations of Modules 1, 2 Revisions to Module 1, 2 Administrative Meeting
Goals: Course Review and Evaluation Planning for Implementation
PLC: Introduction to eLearning PLC: Purpose of Module 1 Module 1: Staff Implementation
Priest eLearning Proposal
Evaluation of Module 1 Instructional Leadership Team Meeting
Goals: Formative Evaluation for Module 3
By early Apr 2011 Mar/Apr 2011 Apr 2011
Goals: Evaluation of Module 1 Debrief Staff Data Planning for Modules 2, 3 Preliminary eMentor List
Building Support for eMentor Team Revisions to Module 3 PLC: Module 2 Module 2: Staff Implementation PLC: Evaluation of Module 2 Preliminary Establishment of eMentor Team Module 3: Implementation
Collaborative Work Session 1: Research eLearning Trends Collaborative Work Session 2: Web 2.0 Tools in Education
Mar 2011-May 2011 Apr 2011 Apr 2011-May 2011 May 2011 May 2011 Summer 2011 Aug 2011 Sept 2011-Oct 2011
Establishment of eMentor Team eMentor Collaborative Work Sessions
1. 2. 3. 4. Teambuilding Compare Tools for Solutions based on summer work Choose eLearning tool, Make team decisions Work Session 5. Work Session
Nov 2011 Dec 2011 Jan 2012-Mar 2012 Jan 2012-Mar 2012 By Apr 2012
PLC: Using Web 2.0 Tools in Education Staff Implementation: Web 2.0 Tools Evaluation
Marketing and Promotion
In alignment with Fee’s (2009) value added approach, the value of this eLearning program must be stressed to the district, administrators, and school staff. The program will need to be marketed and promoted to each of these stakeholder groups. The district will be interested in the return on investment, ROI, and how piloting the program will make the district look favorable to community stakeholders. The budget and timeline used must be carefully outlined, in alignment with the professional development goals of the PLCs and district wide accountability plans. A presentation to the school board prior to the introduction of the proposal would have many advantages. First, the forum would be public. The audience would represent all stakeholders not directly involved with the project. Not only would all administrative district personnel be present, but also key political leaders, some teachers, parents, and students. Secondly, the meeting would offer an opportunity for community input. If any resistance were encountered, it would be better to address the feedback at this level before presenting the program ideas to the administration and instructional leadership team at the school site. Two key district level personnel to include in marketing will be Kirk Henwood, the director of instructional services, and the instructional technology district facilitator, Adam Truitt. Fairly new to their positions, they both come from strong teaching backgrounds and are already trying to integrate technology into classrooms throughout the district. They also work directly
Priest eLearning Proposal
with the IT department, so they can help solve technical issues that may arise throughout implementation of the program.
At the administrative level, the best approach would be a face-to-face meeting to discuss the eLearning program’s benefits. The principal, assistant principal, instructional media center librarian, and counselors would need to be initially involved with the program. The purpose of an introductory meeting would be to communicate the overall plan and to get input into decisions regarding budget and timeline. Ultimately, the value of the program would be framed in the context of providing professional development, while increasing overall staff integration of technology tools into teaching and learning. One approach of the eLearning program could be to focus solely on increasing literacy skills. Literacy would especially appeal to the principal and the director of instructional services, since both of their educational concentrations have focused on literacy-based instruction. For example, tools such as wikis, podcasts, digital stories, Windows Media Maker, Voicethread, Google Docs, and Camtasia Studio could easily engage students, providing useful projectbased assessments to motivate students in reading and writing. More important than raising student test scores, students could use these tools to develop their overall technical skills for future trends. Marketing the program to staff would be as inclusive as possible. First, I would survey staff to gauge interest in professional development specifically for technology. Through the PLC structure, we would introduce all staff to eLearning. Based on input from administration and the instructional leadership team, along with survey data results, we would compile a list of teachers who are already using technology in their instructional practices. This group would represent a cross section of the school, including digital natives and digital immigrants, all grade levels, and various subject areas. Before a second PLC, I would individually talk to teachers from the list that I think would be most interested in the use of technology for teaching. By personalizing these interactions, I believe the teachers, most of whom I already have a good rapport with, will be more responsive to and enthusiastic for new ideas. Innovative teachers will advocate the value of the eLearning program. These eMentors would then form the basis of a collaborative group to show other staff members how to use and then apply particular Web 2.0 tools.
Implementation and Project Management
Although I will manage the initial phases of development and implementation, I will involve as many important stakeholders as I can in project management. District office personnel and the administrative team will ultimately make decisions concerning the budget and timeline. Administration will also help manage the initial introduction of eLearning to all staff in the first two modules. I will rely specifically on Nancy Alex, prinicipal, Joe Simo, assistant principal, and Joan Light-Kraft, instructional media center librarian, to offer insights and advice in the beginning stages of project management. Once a group of eMentors is established, this group will manage the project’s implementation. Utilizing collaborative leadership, the eMentors and I will manage the process of subsequent professional development sessions (Rubin, 2009). The eMentors will directly impact the timeline and achievement of the program’s eLearning goals. I have outlined more specific roles for implementation in my change management plan.
Priest eLearning Proposal
Evaluation of the eLearning program will be based on survey data, participant feedback, administrative evaluation, and performance assessment. The first learning goal is to have 100% of teachers at Centennial Middle School identify and define eLearning after a PLC meeting and the completion of a self-paced eLearning course. The staff will take an online pre and post survey to assess their knowledge of eLearning. A four-point rubric (TBD) will be used to evaluate whether or not teachers can identify and define eLearning upon completion of the first module. The goal of the second module is for at least 80% of staff to explain a school site problem for which eLearning could provide a solution. A wiki will be embedded as an assessment tool in the second module, to initiate a conversation about technology among teachers. Staff will be expected to use and contribute to the wiki, which will be a partial measurement of the second learning outcome. In addition, participant feedback will be collected during a collaborative work session. During this collaborative work session, at least 80% of staff will brainstorm school site problems for which technology could provide a solution. Keeping in mind the expectations of valuable stakeholders in the entire professional development process and the culture of our school district, administration will evaluate these results. The evaluation will involve a face-to-face meeting with administrators involved with the initial decision making processes. The focus will be on whether or not the program that has been implemented thus far is meeting the learning objectives and matching their expectations in terms of a value added approach to professional development. Additionally, we will discuss any changes for the implementation process, in accordance to the change management plan. Based on the formative evaluation with the first two modules, at least 25% of staff will then continue to the third module. The basis of the third module will be for them to research eLearning trends and educational uses for technology. Project assessment, which will require each individual to write a reflection, will be part of the evaluation process for the third module’s learning outcome. During the two collaborative work sessions, individuals would use these reflections to guide decision-making. They would re-visit the staff list of problems from module two to pick three problems that could be solved by an eLearning solution. With a partner, they would then choose one of the problems to address, applying research to develop a presentation. The evaluation for this part of the program would be performance assessment. Each pair would have to present their problem along with the technological solutions to all staff. Staff would then evaluate the information presented by their colleagues by applying the tools directly to their teaching. To measure whether or not 100% of staff applied technology, eMentors would try to offer coaching and feedback during classroom sessions when individuals planned to integrate the technology. eMentors would be responsible for tracking the implementation of the various technology tools, helping to measure results. This system of evaluation will need to be more thoroughly developed and refined based on logistics, staff needs, and leadership capabilities of the eMentoring group. After a three-month period of having teachers see what works and does not work with technology, the final evaluation would be a staff survey that would rate the effectiveness of each technological solution. This data could then drive future eLearning programs. Overall, the effectiveness of this eLearning proposal will depend on the eMentors. The eMentors will communicate the potential for eLearning in education. The “bottom line” of this program is whether or not Centennial Middle School comes to value eLearning. If teachers can
Priest eLearning Proposal
successfully apply technology tools to their teaching, then they hopefully will be less intimidated by technology. This will result in more organizational support for changing ideas about teaching and learning, which is advantageous for students. One long-term outcome of a sustainable eLearning program could be a rise in student achievement. Most stakeholders expect education to help students succeed.
Change Management Plan
The Montrose County School District is very hierarchical, and administrators assume much responsibility for the state of the district. Business is centralized; workflows at times can seem antiquated, redundant, and in need of modernization. The district values human relationships, but sometimes personal agendas get in the way of progressive communication that will ultimately improve student achievement. Communication is usually from the top down, with rationales not always given for why a particular change is needed. Change is not always implemented effectively within the district, perhaps reflecting the community’s expectation of keeping traditions. The status quo is unacceptable. If the district expects to grow, then optimizing all students’ learning experiences will not be a mission statement, but will become an action plan. Teachers and students would have to determine the state of the district, not administrators. Business would have to become less centralized, with an approach to systemic change as a goal. Personal agendas would need to be put aside for the sake of doing what is best for kids. Communication would have to be clear, and more communication would need to come from the bottom up than from the top down. This proposal attempts to articulate a need for change from a pedagogical perspective. My vision for technology will change how teachers and students view learning. Through professional development, instructional practices will change. A collaborative culture will be nurtured at Centennial Middle School. First, I will communicate this vision through key stakeholders. My next step is to gain administrative support and involve the instructional leadership team to assist in decision-making before course design and development. Even if executive leadership changes, based on the history of the school site, a teamwork approach to decisions about the proposal will ensure that the program can survive under new leadership. Sponsorship will be critical to my change management plan. Both of my administrators are delegators, which will work to my advantage since they will delegate project management, leaving me responsible for most of the change management. Since I anticipate their program sponsorship and support for the change, this will only increase my credibility as project manager. However, since I have limited change management experience, I will rely heavily on their input and insights to drive decision-making processes. This will ensure that the scope, goals, and objectives will not vary drastically from their original intent.
Joe Simo, assistant principal, will be the key sponsor. In his fifth year at the school, he is knowledgeable of the school landscape and culture. He has been someone who staff has looked to for leadership in times of change. He has knowledge of technology, using it regularly in his daily practices, and supports technology integration. He has a positive rapport overall with most staff, and he will have the potential to resolve conflict among primary sponsors.
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The primary sponsors would be the eMentors, as they will drive the initiative’s outcomes. The secondary sponsors will be the administrative team and the instructional leadership team. One person from either of the two secondary sponsor groups will be an eMentor. This will help facilitate communication between primary and secondary sponsors, which will also be valuable politically.
My change management plan will focus on communicating the right message to the right people at the right time. Involving all in the initial phase of the program will ensure that channels for communication are kept open, so as to avoid early miscommunication and potential sabotage of efforts to institute change. Because the district has a communication flow mostly from the top down, it will present a cultural change to create a site communication channel that flows from the bottom up. By insuring that employees receive the timeliest information through e-mail messages, PLCs, and individual conversations, employees will feel that their input and feedback is vital to the program’s success. “The best change programs reinforce core messages through regular, timely advice that is both inspirational and practicable” (McVay Lynch & Roecker, 2007, p.135). Our communications will strive to inspire through multiple channels of conversations. When people hear the same ideas at the same time, then there is a consistency that lends credibility to a plan.
Administrative support will also make this plan more believable to staff. Since the current organizational culture is heavily influenced by district norms, teachers depend on administration for leadership during times of change. By imparting the value of the program to administrators, then we can work together to identify common concerns that may affect the overall implementation of future changes. In addition to identifying a list of teachers most apt to be eMentors, we will brainstorm factors that might lead to resistance in utilizing technology. Although administration may be able to identify reasons for resistance, they will certainly not identify all personal reasons that employees may resist the program. The instructional leadership team could have a collaborative discussion, to identify some common misconceptions about technology; in order to address some of the most commonly predicted factors for resistance. Some of the reasons that employees might resist advocating eLearning would be: fear, limited knowledge, lack of time, lack of resources, authority issues, adherence to traditions, lack of incentives, or lack of motivation. These issues could be built into the first PLC meeting, to try to prevent some potential problems that could arise during implementation.
Creating Ownership and an Analysis of Support/Opposition
By introducing this program to all staff, I hope to be inclusive and build a readiness for change. By involving all staff in learning about eLearning, the program will create a sense of ownership. “Ownership is often best created by involving people in identifying problems and crafting solutions” (McVay Lynch & Roecker, 2007, p.134). Consequently, having all staff brainstorm a list of possible problems that could be solved by eLearning will open their minds to exploring the potential for eLearning. Digital natives most likely will accept this potential. Since many are already using technology in the classroom, they will perceive the need for learning about new technology tools. Individual relationships will be important to build with digital native supporters, which is why we will encourage them to become eMentors. This will promote a sense of ownership, and having their support in the initial stages of the program is important because they can advocate
Priest eLearning Proposal
the perceived need for change, convincing some initial opponents and fence sitters also to be included in the eMentor team. Digital immigrants will probably be split; there will some supporters and opponents, but I would predict a majority of “fence sitters.”
The “fence sitters” will resist supporting or opposing the program because change affects people emotionally. The human dimension of change must be addressed in this change management plan. The emotions associated with change will be managed through thoughtful design of the second module. I plan to manage the positive reaction cycle, which describes how people respond both positively and negatively to change over time (Straker, D., 2005). Using a wiki will help manage the uninformed pessimism stage of the positive change reaction cycle. If people feel that they have a voice and can readily participate in the process, then they will hopefully feel more invested in the program. Also, people will hopefully feel comfortable in airing their fears and concerns in a somewhat anonymous format. Administrators and active supporters of the program may help convince some fence sitters of the need for change by contributing their thoughts and ideas in a wiki.
By including 25% of staff, a representative group in the eMentoring program, it will be easier to manage resistance to the project. Major transformations involve 20% of staff, and a program’s value is sustained through collective actions (McVay Lynch & Roecker, 2007, p. 132). The scope of the project will affect only about ten staff members at first, so the amount of work and complexity of the work will focus initially on increasing collaborative synergy among teachers. As concerns about change are voiced within the eMentor team collaborative work sessions, the number of people affected by the change and degree of resistance will be kept to a reasonably manageable level. This small group will serve as a “focus group” to work out potential pitfalls of the change management plan. They will be the “eyes and ears” of eLearning, bringing a realistic portrait of how the perceived change is affecting the school landscape and culture. Earle (2002) proposed: Conversion to a theory, practice, process, or approach, such as technology integration, is a very personal process. It involves preparation of the teacher (building relationships of trust, helping teachers feel and recognize the power of teaching with technology, personalizing training, and finding out teacher needs, interests, and concerns), commitment by the teacher, following-up on that commitment by the support team, and resolving teacher concerns arising during the change process. Teachers move through at least three levels—confidence, competence, and creativity. It is a process of gradualness as they progress from learner to adopter to leader. At first they utilize existing practices, then adapt to their own needs, and finally design their own integrated experiences (p. 13) Technology embedded professional development has not been previously introduced within this school culture. Relationships and flexibility will be key to managing change. Since 75% of staff will not be involved in the final three modules, some stakeholders may perceive this flexibility as instability or a lack of direction. This perception can be overcome by managing each part of the change process carefully, communicating learning outcomes clearly to participants, evaluating the program’s effectiveness, revising approaches along the way if necessary, continually analyzing the human issues involved, and addressing the systematic cultural change in values and beliefs toward technology at the school site.
Priest eLearning Proposal Managing a Transformative Change
The ‘what how’ approach to collaboration will help manage this transformative change in values and beliefs (McVay Lynch & Roecker, 2007, p. 143). Since the stakeholders are professionals, they will be treated with dignity. If people feel left out, then they may not support the change process. The eMentors will use information from initial staff brainstorm sessions to guide their research, so everyone will have a strategic voice throughout the entire process. The administrative team, including myself as project manager, will guide the strategic decisions concerning design and initial implementation, but once an eMentoring group is established, the what and how of professional development will be entrusted to this team of collaborators. The achievement of learning outcomes will depend on buy-in from most of the staff, so the collaborative ‘what how’ approach might be the best strategic long-term plan. Time constraints and financial resources will not be a major factor, so collaboration will make long-term change possible. Investment in collaboration at the school site, which will require time and effort, will pay dividends for stakeholders at the district level. If our school model were successful, then there would be a strong likelihood that it could be adapted to other school sites. When all school sites are using technology advantageously, then a true professional learning community is born. To communicate this predictable transformation, it will be necessary to show evidence of change to important stakeholders. I plan to provide data from evaluation along the way to show success of the proposal. Marketing this change might include updates for the school board, oneto-one meetings with important stakeholders; for example, the director of curriculum and instruction; check-ins with administration, regular communications with the instructional leadership team, and even presentations at PLCs. People will be steadfast to future change if they are convinced of the need for reform. They may approach long-term change with an attitude of “What’s in it for me?” The intent of the program must be clear: We want to support teachers to become better teachers, enabling them to have more tools to make their jobs easier. Change will best be managed over a long period of time. It will take over two school years to implement my proposal with systemic changes expected over a three-year period. More people will give their commitment to a project that is carefully planned and implemented over time, resulting in better results that can be used as verification that the change management plan is working.
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Bassoppo-Moyo, T. (2006). Evaluating eLearning: A frontend, process, and post hoc approach. International Journal of Instructional Media, volume 33(1), 1-22.
Colorado Department of Education. School accountability reports [Data file]. Retrieved from http://reportcard.cde.state.co.us/reportcard/pdf/2008_2180_1392_M.pdf
DuFour, R. (2004). What is a “professional learning community”? [Electronic version]. Educational Leadership, 61(8), 1-6.
Earle, R.S. (2002). The integration of instructional technology into public education: Promises and challenges. Educational Technology Magazine, 42(1), 5-13. Retrieved October 28, 2009 from http://bookstoread.com/etp/earle.pdf
Eyberg, L. (2009, September 26). RE: Amy’s technical specifications. Message posted to http://cu.ecollege.com/re/DotNextLaunch.asp?courseid=3580513
Fee, K. (2009). Delivering e-learning: A complete strategy for design, application, and assessment. London, U.K.: Kogan Page Limited.
Joint Information Systems Committee. (2004). Effective practice with e-learning. Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/documents/pub_eff_prac_elearn.aspx
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Jones, B. E., Valdez, G., Nowakowski, J., & Rasmussen, C. (1995). Plugging in: Choosing and using educational technology. Retrieved from http://rsdweb.k12.ar.us/departments/tech/Technology%20Committee/Tech%20Books/pl ug_in.pdf
Kozloski, K. (2006). Principal leadership for technology integration: A study of principal technology leadership. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. Retrieved October 20, 2009 from http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Research/NECC_Research_Paper_Archive s/NECC_2007/Kozloski_Kristen_N07.pdf
Levin, D., & Arafeh, S. (2002). The digital disconnect: The widening gap between internet-savvy students and their schools for the pew internet & american life project. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/1a/9a/3 8.pdf
McVay Lynch, L. & Roecker, J. (2007). Project managing e-learning: A handbook for successful design, delivery and management. New York, N.Y.: Routledge.
Montrose County School District. (2009). The state of the district. Retrieved from http://www.mcsd.org/district/SOD/curriculum.pdf
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Poe, M., & Stassen, M., (Eds.) Teaching and learning online: Communication, community, and assessment. Retrieved from http://www.umass.edu/oapa/oapa/publications/online_handbooks/Teaching_and_Learni ng_Online_Handbook.pdf
Rubin, H. (2009). Collaborative leadership: Developing effective partnerships for communities and schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press
Straker, D. (2005). Change management: The psychology of change. Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/disciplines/change_management/psychology_change/positive_ change.htm
Trentin G. (2007). A multidimensional approach to e-learning sustainability, Educational Technology, volume 47 (5), 36-40.
United States Department of Education. (2004). Toward a new golden age in american education: How the internet, the law, and today’s students are revolutionizing expectations. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/plan/2004/index.html
Voorhis, G. (n.d.). Superintendent’s message. Retrieved from http://www.mcsd.org/district/supMessage.cfmquote
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Key Stakeholders District Level
School Board District Personnel
Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction
Instructional Technology Facilitator
Director of Instructional Services
IT Team Coordinators
Administrative Team Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) Project Manager
Key Sponsor Assistant Principal eMentors
Instructional Media Librarian
Priest eLearning Proposal Content Design and Development –Proposed Task List
1. Module 1: Define eLearning resources 2. Module 1: Rubric 3. Module 2: Define eLearning tools 4. Initial Technology Staff Survey 5. School Board Meeting Presentation Using a Web 2.0 Tool 6. Goals/Agenda for Administrative Meeting 1 7. Goals/Agenda for Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) Meeting 8. Formative Evaluation Plan and Process for Modules 1&2 9. Goals/Agenda for Administrative Meeting 2 10. Pre-PLC eLearning Staff Survey 11. Post-PLC eLearning Staff Survey 12. Wiki Creation-Logistics Meeting w/ IT Agenda & Questions 13. Staff “professional” code agreement and screen cast for wiki usage 14. Participant feedback format for collaborative work session 15. Brainstorming Staff PLC Activity (Kagan’s examples) 16. Goals/Agenda for Administrative Meeting 3 17. Evaluation: Value Added Approach & Expectations: Exceed/Meet/Not Meet Analysis 18. Formative Evaluation Plan & Process for Module 3 19. PLC Module 2 Content/Plan 20. Project Assessment/Reflection for Module 2 21. Performance Assessment Criteria/Rubric 22. Outline of eMentor Marketing Strategies Plan 23. eMentor Coaching Plan 24. eMentor Evaluative Instrument for Classroom Visits 25. Peer Evaluation tools 26. Final Staff Survey-Compare and analyze results to initial technology staff survey, include open-ended questions for future content/prof dev plans