Knowing that good teaching leads to increased student achievement, the Great Prairie Area Education Agency (GPAEA) in Ottumwa, Iowa, already had legacy programs in place to coach and mentor new teachers and to highlight best practices of professional educators using video. To expand these practices and share them with others, GPAEA sought a cost-effective, easily accessible way to store and retrieve these educator-made videos to use for improved teaching and learning.
Research and common sense show that self- and shared reflection for beginning and established educators, often by viewing audio and visual recordings made in the classroom, is an important and common practice. GPAEA wanted to expand this reflective practice, and by having an online repository, the agency could integrate this program into a more cost-effective service offered to its school clients.
The GPAEA leadership team, led by then-Chief Administrator Joe Crozier and current Chief Administrator Jon Sheldahl, wanted a web-based place to store videos for ongoing professional development for and by local district educators. The catchment area of the GPAEA consists of 35 school districts, as well as a number of non-public schools, and it is one of nine in Iowa.
Because curriculum and technology staff already were in the habit of working together to ensure that the technology supports the teaching and learning and doesn’t become a hindrance or an obstacle, they were able to work together to seek a system to support their needs.
After exploring online storage and retrieval options, the GPAEA team decided not to use YouTube (the initial obvious choice) for the following reasons: They wanted a system built with educators in mind that offered a peer-reviewed system to select videos based on criteria they developed, content that was aligned to the Iowa Core Curriculum, and high-quality materials directed and focused on the resources available through the AEA. Also, many districts do not allow access to YouTube on school computers, so a safe, reliable, low-cost PD system was sought. The team decided to create a GPAEA-TV portal with the EduVision platform from JDL Horizons.