Florida Virtual School provides online education for many of these students, so they know providing professional development, not only for their own teachers, but for anyone interested in teaching online is a top priority. I talked to Dawn Towle and Donna Spooner, from FLVS professional development team who are currently creating a new course for teaching in the online environment in collaboration with Post University– who currently offers an online Masters of Ed with a concentration in Online Teaching. This new course will first be offered to current FLVS teachers but, by summer, will also open to the public. The students will have a choice to be online certified through Post University or be Florida Virtual certified.
The course will consist of 7 modules based on the iNACOL Standards for Online Teaching and will cover topics ranging from what is a distance learning, to gathering feedback, assessing, learning about who the students are, how to set up instruction and specific strategies for teaching online. This course is meant give specific web 2.0 tools to teachers to master themselves and then use with their students. It is not just reading material online. Each module will be filled with lots of links so that students of the course have the choice of how deep they want dive into the different topics and personalize their own learning experience. Experiencing how technology can work for their own learning will help them provide the best experience for their students.
Much of the improvement of new professional development experiences for the FLVS teachers truly stems from Carol Dweck’s philosophy of the growth mindset. So many things are changing quickly and with so many trends happening in distance education, success depends so greatly on the belief that everyone can learn more and can stay motivated to keep learning in order to continually inform your teaching practice. The PD experiences for FLVS teachers continue to evolve. One of the next mediums on the list to explore is a FLVS MOOC, with it’s many advantages that could really change the face of professional development.
Whatever the form, it is clear that teachers really have to be “doing” online learning in order to make it effective for their students, and FLVS’s newest course will get teachers doing it for themselves.
Florida Virtual School is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner. Tom is a director for iNACOL.