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Running head: PD ORIENTATION COURSE

Capstone Report

Professional Development Orientation Course for the New Teachers at Vision

International School, Qatar

Margareta V. Tripsa

March, 6th, 2017

Julie Moore

Kennesaw State University


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Capstone Report

Description of the Capstone Experience

This Orientation Course was designed for the new teachers at Vision

International School (VIS), Qatar by the Education Specialist candidate in

Instructional Technology at Kennesaw State University, Margareta Tripsa. Vision

International School is currently the only separate gender American International

School in Qatar, Middle East. VIS, which is a proprietary school owned by AlMuftah

Group and managed by the International School Services, opened its doors in

September 2014. Typically, teacher turnover is high in international schools, and VIS

is no different. In addition to the high teacher turn over, student enrollment is

increasingly higher and, as new sections are added, a large number of positions are

created every year. Consequently, there is a dire need to provide professional

development (PD) that addresses their needs with regards to technology use and this

cannot be done through school-wide synchronous sessions since the beginning of the

school year places many curriculum demands on the shoulders of the new teachers.

They need to quickly get ready for the new school year, get their classrooms ready,

adjust to a new place where they would live and work, learn about the different types

of curriculums used at the school, learn about the culture of the school and of the

country, and also start planning instructional lessons using new technology. Lacking

the knowledge and the skills required to manipulate the new technologies can bring

on a great deal of frustration. Therefore, the idea of creating an Orientation Course

that would be available to the teachers right after they are hired was saluted by the

administration.

Before the design of the Orientation Course a large number of teachers and

administrators were surveyed. The Education Specialist candidate who designed this
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course had a series of meetings with the Information Technology (IT) department and

school leaders to discuss the capstone idea and investigate best scenarios to help the

teachers feel empowered to use technology effectively. The surveys and the data

analysis provided insight into the respondents perspectives in regards to technology

integration, their needs, and the direction they wanted the school to head to. The

analysis of the data collected by surveying the teachers, through the meetings with the

school administrative team, and by interviewing the school leaders helped analyze the

strategic direction of Vision International School and create a product that promoted

change in regards to effective technology use. The feedback received through the

surveys that had been administered as well as through informal conversations or

coaching sessions has guided the Education Specialist candidate in finalizing and

refining the Orientation Course.

Current information on issues, research, and trends in education technology

has been used for constructing the Orientation Course. The project was aligned with

the schools goals to improve student learning experiences and academic performance

and professional learning.

Standards and Objectives

Out of the four objectives that were going to drive the design of the

Orientation Course, the following three have been met:

1. Expand opportunities and choices for professional learning for teachers and

administrators though the design of a technology-based professional development

orientation course that is inspired by teachers needs for technology integration,

models principles of adult learning, and promotes best practices in teaching, learning,

and technology integration.


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2. Strengthen teacher knowledge and skills with regard to technology

implementation by modeling effective integration and use of technology in the

classroom and by assisting them in utilizing technology to improve teaching and

learning.

3. Conduct program evaluations to determine the overall effectiveness of

professional learning on deepening teacher content knowledge, improving teacher

pedagogical skills and/or increasing student learning.

Because of the fact that there were no funds available for the eCoach position

for the 2016-2017 school year, the fourth goal was not met. This goal was going to

target an increase in teacher collaboration by creating a learning community where

teachers could showcase effective technology integration on the Shout-Out page on

the schools Instructional Technology website.

This project greatly contributed to enriching the Education Specialist

candidates knowledge in regards to technology integration best practices,

instructional design, and the design of professional learning opportunities.

Through this project, a variety of International Society for Technology in

Education (ISTE) standards and Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC)

Standards has been reached. Through this project, the Education Specialist candidate

showed her mastery of mainly four PSC standards, which show the wealth of skills

she had acquired while designing this project. It showed her ability to model and

facilitate the diffusion of innovation and change (PSC 1.4) by researching,

recommending, and implementing strategies for initiating and sustaining technology

innovations and for managing the change process at Vision International School,

Qatar. A second standard that she showed mastery of is 2.6, Instructional Design. This

capstone project proved her ability to model and facilitate the effective use of
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research-based practices in instructional design when designing and developing

digital tools, resources, and technology-enhanced learning experiences. It also showed

her mastery of the 3.3 PSC standard, Online and Blended Learning as it demonstrated

her ability to model and facilitate the use of online and blended learning content, and

learning networks to support and extend student learning and expand opportunities

and choice for professional learning for teachers and administrators. Finally, this

Online Course for teachers showcased her ability to develop and implement

technology-based professional learning that integrates technology to support face-to-

face and online components, models principles of adult learning, and promotes best

practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.

Some of the dispositions cultivated through his project revolved around the

passion for innovation, effective technology integration, and visionary leadership.

Deliverables, Deviation from Proposal, and Barriers and Obstacles

The budget constraints also impacted the number of deliverables, as they were

tightly closed to the objectives. In short, the three deliverables of the project were: (1)

Pre- and post-survey of teacher needs for technology integration, and a data analysis

of these surveys (2) The online professional development orientation course published

on the schools Instructional Technology website (3) Peer-coaching documentation

reports of the technology integration support provided throughout the year (4) Mid-

year and end-of year survey on the effectiveness of the orientation course. The

deliverable that did not result from the project was the teacher showcase page

promoting effective technology integration published on the schools Instructional

Technology website.

The first deliverable, pre- and post-survey of teacher needs for technology

integration, guided the design of the orientation course. Through the surveys, the first
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objective of the project was met. The data collected via the survey was analyzed by

the Education Specialist candidate in collaboration with the schools IT director. The

needs expressed by the teachers via the survey, and well as the anticipated needs that

resulted after consulting with the IT Director and the school administrators were taken

into account for the design of this project.

The second deliverable, the online professional development orientation

course published on the schools Instructional Technology website, addressed the first

objective, as well. The Orientation Course, which consisted of tutorials and

screencasts and was driven by the teachers needs for professional development and

their coaching needs, was published on a Google Site designed for this purpose. The

course expanded the opportunities for choices for professional development, modeled

the principles of adult learning, and promoted best practice in teaching, learning, and

technology integration.

The third derivable, peer-coaching documentation reports of technology

integration support provided throughout the year, addressed mainly the second

objective. The peer-coaching report indicated in what way teachers have been

provided with on-going support in utilizing technology to improve teaching and

learning. Because this school year the Education specialist candidate had a full

teaching load, coaching support was provided to a limited number of teachers.

The fifth deliverable, mid-year and end-of year surveys on the effectiveness of

the orientation course, served the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of the course

and addressed the last objective of the project. The project was adjusted accordingly

for future use.

Like indicated above, the project deviated from the proposal because the

eCoach position was not available during the 2016-2017 school year. This had a
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negative impact on the fifth deliverable, which was the design of a Shout Out page,

which would have showcased instructional technology good practices.

The project slightly deviated from the proposal due to a couple other reasons.

Changes to the project had to be made after reviewing it with the new Information

Technology (IT) director. As the school had a new IT director and curriculum director

an additional conversation about the Orientation Course took place. The section that

underwent a few alterations was the one about the use of Promethean Boards. If

initially the plan was to create tutorials on the use of Promethean Boards for different

subject areas (math, science, language arts), this eventually changed to creating

screencasts of different levels of complexity about the use of Promethean Boards and

Sony Projectors in general (Using ActivInspire with Promethean Boards and Sony

projectors, ActivInspire- Special Tools, and G Suite with Promethean Boards and

Sony Projectors). In addition, after consulting with the IT director, the Education

Specialist candidate concluded that the scope of the Orientation Course had to be

broadened. If the audience targeted in the proposal was the early childhood education

teachers (ECE), it was decided that the audience needed to be all the new teachers at

the school. This made sense as the content of the Orientation Course was going to be

useful to all new teachers and the content did not strictly relate to early education

practices.

The project had two main goals: (a) to create a PD orientation course that

could be used by the new teachers upon their employment, and (b) to help teachers

effectively integrate the technology tools and resources available at VIS in their

classrooms throughout the year. The first goal was met and the new teachers will be

able to utilize the Orientation Course starting the summer of 2017. The second goal

was partially met and will be fully met next year. The initial plan was to release the
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screencasts as they were being produced and, at the same time, help the teachers

utilize the Orientation Course and integrate technology into their lessons along the

way. The fact that because of budget constraints the eCoach position was unavailable

and the IT Director was the only person in the IT department who was qualified to

provide instructional technology assistance to teachers became an obstacle in the

attempt to reach the second goal as early as this year. However, assistance has been

provided to the teachers who have been seeking support, a couple teachers have been

provided with coaching opportunities on various topics related to instructional

technology, and additional resources to support these teachers have been created

along the way and have been added to the Orientation Course.

Evaluation Data

The surveys administered at the completion of the project indicated that the

Orientation Course was a success. A wide number of teachers provided positive

feedback and shared that they wished they had access to such a resource right upon

their employment, which showed that the main goal of the project was met. At this

point, on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest, 53% of the respondents provided the

highest rating, and 43.3 rated the Orientation Course as a 4. Through the surveys, the

teachers have shared what other topics they would like to see covered in the

Orientation Course. Some of these topics include: Rediker, Attendance, Gradebook,

Class Dojo, Atlas, iMovie. The majority of the teachers shared that the screencasts are

comprehensive and nothing should be changed. One teacher revealed that it would be

very useful to her if some Frequently Asked Questions document were added after

each tutorial. While the majority of the teachers shared that the pace was great, two

teachers indicated that they were a little too fast paced from them, but they

appreciated the fact that they could review them as many times as they needed.
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Follow up

Per teachers and administrators request, more tutorials will be added to the

Orientation Course. Because Vision International School, Qatar, is going through an

accreditation process, two extra tutorials has been created and added to the

Orientation Course. This became a priority since a number of teachers did not know

how to gather evidence, how to turn student work into digital files, or how upload

their evidence to a central accreditation folder. As the teachers learned how to upload

digital artifacts to their curriculum maps, acquiring these new skills, helped them be

more productive while mapping their curriculum in Atlas, as well.

Reflection

Through this project, a variety of International Society for Technology in

Education (ISTE) standards and Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC)

Standards has been reached, as explained above under Objectives and Standards.

Through this project, the Education Specialist candidate showed her mastery of

mainly four PSC standards, which show the wealth of skills she had acquired while

designing this project. The Professional Development Orientation Course

demonstrated the Education Specialist candidates ability to research, design, and

offer online professional development opportunities to teachers. It showcased her

ability to develop resources in order to give the teachers the opportunity to grow

professionally and help school achieve its goals. One of the five tenets of the school

vision states that teachers and students will use technology appropriately as a natural

extension to enhance learning opportunities. Students will be exposed to and engaged

in the use of technology on a regular basis as a means to expand their classroom

experience and provide them new opportunities for self-expression and discovery

(Vision International School). Consequently, one expectation is that teachers are


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fluent users of technology. By working on this assignment, the Education Specialist

candidate has learned that designing a good technology development opportunity plan

entails strategic planning that is driven by a shared vision and collaborative inquiry

approaches. By designing the Orientation Course, the Education Specialist candidate

has demonstrated her ability to design a technology-integrated project that aligns

technological resources to instructional priorities. This artifact also demonstrated her

ability to research and recommend effective ways to integrate technology that would

help teachers build knowledge and skills with regards to the use of instructional

technology tools available at the school (with a focus on the use of Promethean

boards, iPads, and G Suite) and would help Vision International School reach its

goals.

One of the most critical dispositions that are expected of an instructional

coach is to show excitement towards innovative practices and be a catalyst for

change. Designing the culminating project was an exciting process. This intervention

was important because it helped equip teachers with the knowledge and skills they

need to effectively integrate technology into their lessons and be proactive

participants in the curriculum design and implementation in their attempt to work

towards reaching the vision and mission of the school.

Creating dynamic 21st century learning environments is critical for building

global understanding, for enhancing teaching and learning, and for providing

meaningful, rigorous, and relevant instruction that is in sync with todays societal

realities. Research has indicated that the most important variable in student

achievement is the teachers (Block, 2000; Darling-Hammond, 2000; Haycock, Jerald,

& Huang, 2001). The online Orientation Course would greatly compliment the school

wide professional development sessions that will be offered on campus. The online
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professional development represents the anytime, anywhere option that allows

participants to engage in professional learning beyond time and space barriers. (Dede,

Ketelhut, Whitehouse, Breit, and McCloskey, 2009; Davis, 2009; Stanford-Bowers,

2008). The fact that this course would be available to teachers right after they are

hired would address the needs of the teachers who want to come to Qatar in

September ready to teach. In the 21st century, asynchronous and synchronous

learning technologies can provide new opportunities for improving and expanding

teacher professional development opportunities beyond the physical walls of the

schools. Professional development is essential because it is a means for remaining

current on the increasing amount of pedagogical, instructional technology, and

content area research. Therefore, this project will most likely have a positive impact

not just on the professional knowledge and skills of the teachers, but on the students

academic performance, as well.

No matter how time consuming instructional technology teachers might think

this is, giving the teachers this resource is extremely helpful.


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References

Block, C. C. (2000). A case for exemplary classroom instruction: Especially for

students who come to school without the precursors for literacy success.

National Reading Conference Yearbook, 49, 421440.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Teacher quality and student achievement: A review of

state policy evidence. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 8(1), 142.

Dede, C., Ketelhut, D. J., Whitehouse, P., Breit, L., & McCloskey, E. M. (2009). A

research agenda for online teacher professional development. Journal of

Teacher Education, 60, 819. doi: 10.1177/0022487108327554

Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Teacher quality and student achievement: A review of

state policy evidence. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 8(1), 142.

Davis, M. R. (2009). Creating value with online teacher learning. Education Week,

2(2). Retrieved June 2009 from http://www.teachersourcebook.org/tsb/

articles/2009/03/16/02onlinepd.h02.html

Georgia Professional Standards Commission. http://www.gapsc.com/

Haycock, K., Jerald, C., & Huang, S. (2001). Closing the gap: Done in a decade.

Thinking K16, 5(2), 322.

International Society for Technology in Education. https://www.iste.org/

Stanford-Bowers, D. E. (2008). Persistence in online classes: A study of perceptions

among community college stakeholders. Journal of Online Learning and

Teaching, 4(1), 3750.