by Brian Bridges
I’ve been thinking about the Flat World, ever since reading Thomas Freedman’s book, “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.” It’s an excellent look into how the world has changed the past six years. His previous book ” The Lexus and The Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization” shows us how globalization has connected countries and economies and how the “herd” of investors helps keep economies in check. Both books are tightly connected, but it’s the flat world that’s been consuming our attention.
My question: Given how the flat world is moving jobs offshore, how will our mission at CTAP be affected? Our work is primarily customer service. We provide a great deal of professional development directed to teachers, administrators, and technical support personnel, in both large and small groups, both hands-on and lecture style; we inservice district teams to write their technology plans and then help groom them; and we assist in helping districts meet their CDE obligations. How, though, will the flat world impact our professional development work, and what should we do now, to combat the oncoming wave?
Technology Skills classes, still one of the staples of hands-on training, consist of classes in word processing, presentation software, and other productivity programs. While many users prefer to attend these classes in a “live” setting where they are in the same location as the presenter, many online skills training sites are equally competitive. Take Atomic Learning . For an annual fee, users have access to an unlimited number of pre-recorded skills classes, each consisting of a varying number of one to three minute video clips that explain and demonstrate a discreet skill. This enables users to access just the training components they need. Users can choose to watch an entire class, or they can select any of the individual components. In a flat world, pre-recorded skills classes enable educators to learn the specific skills they need at the time they desire and to return to the class any time they want to refresh their knowledge.
CTAP Region 3 Director Ben Anderson understands flat-world professional development, and he’s developed a model and a web site for ensuring electronic access to his professional development classes. His site, the EdTech Leadership Network hosts both live and recorded training. On one hand, he’s developed a skills training site, CTAP Multimedia Technology Tutorials, that is similar to Atomic Learning. For an annual subscription fee, users will have unlimited access to all their skills tutorials.
However, Region 3 has also entered the world of live, online training through their CTAP Live Online Staff Development Workshops. Using Breeze Live (now renamed Adobe Connect), educators may participate in live, two-hour classes on a variety of skills. Session leaders use video and audio as they demonstrate program components. Breeze Live also includes components to broadcast PowerPoint presentations or desktop programs, chat screens that allow students to participate in discussions, and file libraries to distribute handouts. CTAP 3 is competing in the flat world and broadening their customer base to include educators not only from their region, but from any region in the world.
Good news for educators. While the enterprise version of Adobe Connect (Breeze Live) still costs more than $10K per year, they now offer a smaller license that all0ws you to host one training room with up to 15 participants at a time. For $39 per month, you, too, can now enter the world of flat professional development.
New K12HSN Program
In our last article, we highlighted the K12 High Speed Network as a free resource for use in group meetings or trainings. Recently, the K12HSN, in partnership with Polycom has introduced the K12HSN Interactive Desktop Solution (KIDS) program. Through a three-step process that includes a brief application, online training, and accountability reporting, teachers will receive a free copy of Polycom’s desktop client for Windows. More information is available at: <http://www.k12hsn.org/conferencing/training/>. Some CTAP regions have begun to offer professional development using videoconferencing over the K12HSN, with workshops focused on integrating videoconferencing into the classroom. The KIDS program will do much to further this flat-world connectivity.