We’re getting ready to start another session of our online courses this Friday 24th March, 2012. We’ll be welcoming a group of teachers from one of our newest US school members, Avenues: The World School, here in New York City, as well as educators from Brazil, China, Ghana, Morocco, Puerto Rico and Romania.
We started running online courses in September of 2001. The iEARN network was growing rapidly, and it was becoming increasingly difficult, and expensive, to provide only face-to- face professional development to educators around the US. With seed funding from the Longview Foundation, and the experience of course developer Eliane Metni, coordinator of iEARN-Lebanon, we launched courses to bring US teachers together with their peers around the world to help them plan and integrate an iEARN project into their classroom, while working collaboratively online.
As Margaret A. Powers recently posted on her blog, creating a “reciprocal” learning community, and one that is global, takes time and detail. We continue to tweak our model (including more interactive tools, providing courses of different lengths, updating materials, etc), but what we haven’t strayed from is a model based on collaboration and community-building. To date over 2000 teachers from 93 countries have completed our courses and built lasting professional and personal relationships.
Some of my best friends are teachers that I have met through iEARN.” Nancy Petrella, Middletown, Delaware
Nancy first took our online course in 2005 as part of an initiative by the Delaware Department of Department of Education. She went on to mentor other Delaware educators, and we hired her to teach the Creative Arts online course in 2007.
I think the communication and collaboration that I had with other teachers and our facilitator through the forums had the most impact on me. The resources were very helpful, but I truly benefited from the feedback I was given by other teachers. I was able to take their suggestions/feedback to increase my knowledge of project based learning, create a better project plan, and become a better teacher in general.“
Our courses, hosted on the Moodle course management system, are crafted to provide practical experiences that allow participants to explore projects and align them to required standards and their individual classroom needs. It’s also a great opportunity for educators to outline how global collaborative projects meet the Common Core State Standards (CCSS.) Communicating with other participants is a required part of almost all assignments. All this while taking into account that our participants in the course do have full-time jobs! Each course is asynchronous and consists of up to five hours per week of online and offline work.
We look forward to getting the new course participants involved, engaged and inspired.
For more information on our professional development program visit: http://us.iearn.org/professional-development