Professional development app helps schools personalize training

Observation 360 is currently available on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

With budget cuts slashing districts’ ability to provide intensive professional development for their educators, PD 360 and its mobile component Observation 360 are offering schools a way to access learning resources quickly and easily.

“[PD 360] is basically an on-demand professional development system, so it has a series of video segments that cut across a huge array of topics for teachers, stemming from teaching reading, to classroom management, to differentiated instruction,” said Mary Esselmann, assistant superintendent of professional development, assessment, and accountability in the Kansas City, Mo. school district. “It pretty much runs the whole gamut,” she said.

PD 360 offers more than 200 hours of research-based video content, as well as tools for follow-up, tracking, reflection, and group training. Observation 360 is tightly integrated with PD 360 and allows for effective classroom observation and walkthroughs.

“We use it on our iPad, and you can also use the web-based version,” Esselmann said. “When schools are using peer-to-peer, they can [use it to] input the observations directly,” she said.

Esselmann said that the programs’ custom template ability was a major bonus for her district.

“We actually have a standard observation template that’s aligned to our teacher evaluation…and all of our teachers and schools are built into it,” she said. “It’s just a matter of touch, touch, touch. You touch the school, you touch the teacher, you bring up the template you need, go through the walkthrough, and it allows for comments you can immediately upload or save for later,” Esselmann said, adding that the data then provides for an immediate district read of how well teachers are performing in terms of key standards.

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