Online Teacher Communities Could Ease Standards Transition
July 1, 2014—By Rachel Morello, StateImpact—
The Indiana Department of Education recently launched dozens of new online communities to help teachers adjust to Indiana’s new academic standards.
The state’s Department of Education Office of e-Learning created 49 new virtual “communities of practice” intended to connect educators from around the state and beyond. Groups are grade- and subject-based, and are operated through Google+.
New online communities allow Indiana teachers to share resources and discuss common questions.
The communities offer teachers the ability to discuss questions, share links, request resources or suggest additional categories for sharing within the group.
The initiative could prove especially helpful as teachers begin the transition to new state standards. Indiana became the first state to scrap the nationally-crafted Common Core State Standards in March, replacing them with what will be known as the Indiana Academic Standards.
A statewide needs assessment conducted in April found many teachers were concerned with how to find and curate digital instructional content tied to the new standards.
In an interview with Education Week, the DOE’s assistant director of e-learning, Candice Dodson, said more than 1,000 teachers have signed up for the service since its launch mid-May:
So far, Dodson said, there has been heavy activity in the new communities despite it being summer break, with teachers creating their own subgroups dedicated to specific topics and probing the community for lesson plans related to specific standards.
“It’s not a new concept, to have educators join together virtually in a professional-learning network,” she said. “It’s an amazing way for teachers to support each other.”
The long-term hope, Dodson said in the interview, is that educators will move beyond seeking information about Indiana’s new academic standards and use the new online communities to improve their work across a number of dimensions.
The Department of Education recently released resource guides to help teachers with the transition.