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Investigating Distance Professional Development: Lessons Learned from Research Michael J. Bossé & Robin L. Rider East Carolina University.

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Presentation on theme: "Investigating Distance Professional Development: Lessons Learned from Research Michael J. Bossé & Robin L. Rider East Carolina University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Investigating Distance Professional Development: Lessons Learned from Research Michael J. Bossé & Robin L. Rider East Carolina University

2 Rationale for Research Dilemma –Effective professional development (PD) is critical in retaining rural teachers. –Rural school districts increasingly face budgetary reductions for PD exacerbated by rising travel costs. One possible solution –Emerging technologies and alternative delivery methods, such as videoconferencing and web- based media

3 Rationale for Research The current study focused on a D-PD initiative in mathematics and science education and examined how face-to-face, web-based, and video conferencing technology delivery affects the learner- learner/learner-instructor environment, communication and interaction.

4 About the Project REVITALISE - Rural Educators Using Visualization to Inspire Teacher Advancement and Learning to Improve Science and Mathematics Education Creating a virtual learning environment via the Access Grid ( for rural middle and high school mathematics and science Reduce teacher isolation and stimulate a renewed excitement for teaching and learning through the use of visualization technologies

5 About the Project Access Grid –Teaching –Participant, Large Group Communication –Shared Applications Visualization Technologies –Microsoft Excel –GnuPlot –Advanced Visual Systems (AVS Express)

6 Demographics of Project Over 120 teachers spread across Eastern North Carolina and Illinois North Carolina Illinois

7 Best Practices in Face-to-face Professional Development Engage –Energy, enthusiasm, authentic, eye contact, strong voice, hands-on activities Relevant –Know your audience, what they already know and what they need to learn Collaborate –Respect their ideas, allow for group collaboration Reflect –Internally ask “Am I reaching them”

8 QUESTION How would we do this presentation and get each of you to have a class discussion if half of you were in another room, watching us on a TV screen? Researchers evaluated modalities of distance professional development for effectiveness and observed the interactions and communications among participants to analyze the affect of these electronic media on participants.

9 Research Questions How does D-PD via electronic modalities differ from traditional face-to-face instruction? How can D-PD allow for these differences? What affect does video conferencing and web-based technologies have on reducing isolation of rural teachers? In what ways are participant-participant and participant-instructor communication enabled and constrained by videoconferencing and web-based technologies?

10 Teacher Participants Grappled with… Learning the technology Learning the underlying mathematics and science Learning to interpret the visualization in the context of the math or science Learning the pedagogical uses of the viz and the technology Use emerging communications technologies such as videoconferencing, instant messenger, and the Access Grid Building a community of practice

11 Data Each workshop was videotaped Baseline questionnaires at the beginning, halfway through, and post institute questionnaires were administered. Items measured were –The effectiveness of individual instruction sessions –Perceived importance of communication technologies –Personal and classroom use of technology –Overall impact of the project on the participants Changes in the distribution patterns were measured.

12 Results Videoconferencing was found to be effective as a D- PD delivery method –Participant satisfaction was higher for sessions where the presenter was live and local than when the presenter was remote Although a class “culture” formed at each location through formal and informal interactions among staff and teachers, it did not translate well between sites via whole group interactions –Natural spontaneous, and voluntary communication between remote participants remained minimal. Thus whole group videoconferencing was found to be limited in creating a community of practice

13 Results The most effective method of D-PD was the small group parallel sessions by subject/grade level Proximity seemed to be the decisive factor in whether a community of practice was formed.

14 Effective Distance Education PLANNING Communication among staff –Locally and remotely Proper room setup Opportunities for small group collaboration and communication –Locally and remotely –Videoconferencing –Using interactive communication tools

15 Suggestions for Future Research Scalability –How do we offer more high quality D-PD opportunities for rural schools with less monetary expense? –How do we prepare individual school sites to be operational for global networking or multi-site collaborations and to overcome technology infrastructure obstacles? Impact on student learning as they are exposed to more high-end visualizations in middle and high school mathematics Color showing temperature at bay surface --NCSA

16 Questions? "This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0138819. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation."

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