Thursday, October 7, 2010

So, what is AEA PD Online?

As I mentioned yesterday, we have 2 concurrent initiatives regarding online learning in the state at the moment.  The first, which had been called "the statewide system" for months, has now been dubbed "AEA PD Online."  But, what is AEA PD Online?

A little over 3 years ago, the chief administrators of Iowa's AEAs commissioned what was called the AEA Online Council.  It featured at least one representative from each AEA, and the representatives came from a set of diverse roles within their respective AEAs; we had Educational Service directors, Media Service directors, Educational Technology consultants, and License Renewal coordinators in our group.  In addition, we had representatives from other partners, such as the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Learning Online, and IPTV.  Recently, that has expanded to included representatives from higher education as well.

The chief administrators commissioned the group out of a concern of duplicating resources.  There was the reality that as AEAs began to develop online content or online professional development, there would be some unnecessary duplication from one AEA to another if they did not communicate.  So, in its infancy, the Online Council was that vehicle for communication.

It did not take long for the members of the council to realize that by actually pooling together resources and proactively working together, they could work most efficiently, producing the most amount of professional development for the money.  This could only happen if the AEAs worked as a system with dedicated staff and resources being not for one AEA, but for all the AEAs.  In 2009-10, it was a goal of the council to make this system a reality, and by this last summer, we had hired a project manager to oversee the system, started laying down our online technological supports of a registration system, Moodle server, and website, and developing a legal agreement to govern this new system.  The birth of AEA PD Online.

The mission of the Online Council is:
  • To develop a statewide system for development of content for online professional learning related to statewide efforts and mandates by determining the vision and managing the process
  • To develop a single, transparent system for delivery of online professional learning content
  • To serve as an advocate for quality online professional learning by collaborating with other state organizations
AEA PD Online will bring to Iowa educators those 3 things.  Our goal is to offer 150 online courses in 2011 and double that for 2012.  Included in this are the rapid deployment of several state initiatives, including Iowa Core professional development, the Intel Elements series, training on the Google Apps, and the OLLIE professional development series.  We have recently added a training to our training server on 103b Overview of State Requirements Regarding Seclusion and Restraint, a legally-required area of professional development for Iowa schools, and we have plans to continue adding more.  We will aggregate the webinars and webinar recordings from the AEAs in one place, and will help host statewide webinars.  And similarly, we will gather together and support the online communities that allow Iowa teachers to connect with each other.

The AEAs, through AEA PD Online, are in the process currently of applying for license renewal provider process, a process that should go through December.  By that time, the aforementioned registration system and Moodle server will be put in place, meaning we will see our first official "statewide" courses in April.  However, individual AEAs are already hosting online courses.  A list of them can be found on the AEA website.  The training server has already existed statewide for some time, although individual trainings are new.  And, while the aggregation of current webinars, recordings, and online communities will happen once our new website goes live in April, you will see more efforts in those areas in the spring.

But, this does not happen without you.  We need instructors willing and interested in teaching online.   And, teaching online is not the same as teaching face-to-face.  If you have a desire to teach online or want to know more, please contact me.

In an upcoming post, we'll look at what it takes to be an online instructor, and let you see if it would be right for you.

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