When discussing what to do with $3 million for advancement of online education with @eabbey, I argued that we ought to invest the money into teachers: teaching them how to use the already available systems in effective ways. The way I see it, most computer labs are wasted with word processing tasks. While getting every student a laptop might be nice, $3 million isn’t going to do it. So my argument is to teach teachers how to engage students better with the equipment already available. Imagine if teachers were fighting to get into the computer lab to use the computers effectively. This kind of problem could cause districts to consider purchasing more computers or even going 1:1. Furthermore, if/when districts do go 1:1, the teachers will be better prepared to implement. The learning curve will be less steep.
However, the worthy discussant @eabbey is, he pointed out that $3 million spread out over just secondary teachers in his state equates to about $200 dollars per teacher (or about 1 measly professional development day). He further questions (or more likely noted) whether 1 professional development day is enough. Of course not. However, what if the $3 million was invested in creating teacher leaders. People in districts who may already have high interest in online learning, but do not have time/resources/background knowledge to bring the online world into their classroom. By teaching a core group (or several core groups) how to meaningfully engage with what is already available for free, they will become models in their building of what is possible. Furthermore, significant time could be spent during professional development helping the teachers prepare to help others in their district. The scalability is not in the number of teachers first affected, but in the “trickle down” effect. At the state level, leaders are created, then within the schools, the inclusion of online learning becomes a grassroots effort!
My worry is that $3 million dollars will be spent on “stuff”, or developing some online hub for teachers in the state to access. The problem with using moneys to create new, is that many teachers are still not using what is available right now. If they aren’t using the “old”, why would we expect them to use the “new”?