At a December Nanuet School Board meeting, second graders from Miller Elementary presented their projects in which they used a program called Glogster.
Using Glogster, the students made online interactive posters loaded with text, pictures and their own voiceovers.
Many teachers are beginning to use today’s technology in their classroom curriculum, but not all teachers are up to date. The South Orangetown School District and Rockland BOCES developed a new program to combat this program called Moodle University, which begins Jan. 23.
About Moodle University
“Educators engaging educators in professional development that sticks,” is the tagline for a paradigm shift in the way some professional development is envisioned for Rockland County School Districts.
Moodle University offers courses developed and taught by teachers and library media specialists. These classes are open to educators, administrators, tutors—anyone can take them,” said Sarah Chauncey, Rockland BOCES Director of Information Resources and Learning Technologies.
Courses will be taught online so instructors and participants can work from any location, any time of day, even in their pajamas. Also, educators will earn professional development hours for each course taken.
"It is often difficult and impractical to attend courses to pursue professional development that will enhance our instruction as teachers," Said South Orangetown Middle School Librarian Patty Eyer, one of the instructors with the program. "Rockland BOCES's online courses offer quality instruction when and where it is convenient for teachers."
About the Courses
“Teachers have an amazing breadth and depth of knowledge and now they will have the platform and opportunity to share what they know with their colleagues throughout Rockland and beyond,” said Chauncey.
The five inaugural courses are web-based technologies that can be implemented across the curriculum to support teaching and learning:
- Glogster—learn to upload photos, videos, text and audio to create an interactive online poster.
- Voicethread—a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in five ways. Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities and pick which comments are shown through moderation.
- Google Earth—learn how to use Google Earth in the classroom. Google Earth allows one to travel the world through a virtual globe and view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings and much more. With Google Earth's rich, geographical content, users are able to experience a more realistic view of the world.
- Google Documents—learn how to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. There are many ways to incorporate Google docs into the classroom, and there are practical applications as well.
- Google Forms—develop a form in which students can go online and answer questions. These forms can be used as a survey or to answer guided questions. Teachers can access the answers through a Google account on one spreadsheet.
Courses are taught cross-district so educators from Nanuet might be in a course with educators from Nyack and Clarkstown and the instructor might be an educator from South Orangetown. The opportunity for dissemination of ideas amongst teachers from different districts, different content areas, and different grades is made possible through an online learning environment—the type of collaboration and sharing that is rare and valuable.
Go here to meet the instructors of these courses.
"As far as being an online instructor goes, I am more of a facilitator of information while guiding the participants toward solutions," Eyer said. "I have observed learning become more collaborative, contextual and active. And I love that."
Lynn Gorey, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction for South Orangetown, is also part of a professional development committee in the district. She saw a lot of need for teachers to be updated in their knowledge of technology and need for more student use of technology in the classroom.
"We came up with the idea of offering hybrid online learning and BOCES set up a virtual campus and gave us the server space and support from people such as Sarah Chauncey and Laura Davie," said Gorey.
“We tested the concept with South Orangetown School district last year,” said Chauncey. “Several teachers from South Orangetown worked with BOCES to design and develop courses. They became instructors for approximately 300 South Orangetown teachers and librarians who selected one of the courses to complete during the Fall of 2011.”
Our district paid our teachers and gave them time to develop the courses," said Gorey. "All 300+ teachers in our district took Moodle University courses in September and now BOCES is hiring our district's teachers to teach these courses, open to the rest of the county."
"This was the first time we did professional development online in our district," Gorey added. "It was important that all of our teachers were exposed to this, not just a few volunteers."
“We took the leap of faith that’s necessary when waiting no longer makes sense and the risk of making some mistakes leads to the type of learning that can positively change business as usual,” said Chauncey.
Rockland BOCES Charlene Jordan, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, convened the county's assistant superintendents of instruction in November and shared the vision. There was unanimous agreement that the time was right and the vision was sound.
Use in Schools
Rockland BOCES Laura Davie manages the online learning management system, Moodle, which is available for use by any teacher in the Rockland School Districts. Davie noted that there are 925 active elementary, middle and high school students taking online-blended courses from Math Olympiads to Advanced Chemistry.
Rockland BOCES, Kaushika Patel, Director of Technology manages an end-to-end infrastructure available 24/7 that can be expanded to support the demand of every district in the county.
As teachers use these tools, they’ll be more comfortable with them and may consider using online-blended learning in their own classrooms.
The rate of transferring professional development skills into classroom practice is low because educators may not have an immediate need for the content that is delivered and/or the tools required to implement what was learned. This will no longer be the case. Educators will make choices that make sense for their instructional needs. All of the new online courses include an "In the Classroom" assignment. This assignment requires participants to share how they will incorporate new skills and knowledge into their practice and to post a lesson exemplar.
With anything that's new, there are hurdles along the way.
"We had a lot of challenges with it, especially technical challenges," said Gorey. "We want to simplify the design and customize the courses so it's easier to navigate."
She also wants to do a hybrid course in which there is a face-to-face opportunity in the beginning before online work starts.
"We're going to do another round of in-house (sessions) with our teachers to develop more courses," she said.
If you’ve never taken an online course, you can attend a brief orientation session at BOCES where you will learn how to navigate, post to a forum, submit assignments etc. A video at the beginning of each course provides a guided tour.
- Go to http://tinyurl.com/rbocesmucourses to register today. Space is limited in each class.
- Review the course offerings below
- Sign-Up in Rockland BOCES My Learning Plan
- A User Id and Password will be sent to your email address along with the link to your course on Jan. 23
Contact Sarah Chauncey if you have questions: email@example.com or 845.627.4757