New platform weaves social media into important professional development resources

professional-developmentThe state of Utah has adopted an innovative online platform for its 25,000 teachers that reinvents the notion of how professional development is experienced.

The platform, called Teaching Channel Teams, combines video and social media in a single solution that helps educators collaborate and improve their practice as they prepare for the Common Core. Teaching Channel, which offers a library of more than 700 free videos showing exemplary teaching practices, launched the subscription-based social media platform during the 2013 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in San Antonio in June.

Teaching Channel’s community of professional development already includes more than 260,000 educators, but the new Teams platform comes in response to educator requests for a secure platform through which to collaborate, be mentored, and learn.

(Next page: Watch a video about how Teams is being implemented)

The Utah Coalition for Educational Technology (UCET), an ISTE affiliate, said that Teaching Teams will help the coalition “revolutionize how teachers learn, connect, and inspire each other to improve the outcomes for all K-12 students across America.”

UCET will use teacher input to build professional learning resources, expand and improve teacher learning opportunities, and to raise teachers’ status.

“The Teaching Channel Teams platform enables us to support teachers across our state in an equitable way with access to high-quality professional development assets, efficiently and cost-effectively, helping us to build a learning community connecting teachers in urban and rural districts,” said Dr. Laura Hunter, Director of Instructional Services, Utah Education Network.

In Chicago, the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) is using Teams to create links throughout the district in the hopes that teachers will continue to share their videos of practice and lesson plans.

Brian Sims, AUSL’s managing director, said AUSL is hoping to update its teacher professional development options.

“It brings a level of interactivity to the professional development experience that we haven’t seen anywhere else,” Sims said.

Watch this video to learn more about AUSL’s experience.

(Next page: How others are using Teams, and a look at platform features)

Educate Texas, a public-private partnership working across diverse districts in Texas, will use Teaching Channel Teams to support its coaches and educators in high schools focusing on its college-ready and STEM initiatives, using video-enabled collaboration and coaching to connect educators across the state.

A professional development solution that taps into social media could empower teachers to address classroom challenges and share important best practices and knowledge, said John Fitzpatrick, executive director at Educate Texas.

“Teams is allowing us to give teachers the job-embedded, individualized support they need to significantly improve student outcomes,” he said.

Coaches and mentors can make time-stamped notes when reviewing colleagues’ videos. Teachers can save and schedule eMail reminders for videos, and can make their own notes as well.

Video-enabled groups let teachers collaborate on-demand. Groups can be private or open to an entire community. Teachers can work one-on-one with a coach or can work with a group of colleagues. Community members can pose questions to small groups or to the entire Teams community. The cloud-based web service is available anywhere a reliable internet connection is found.