The PD solution saving principals time and money

by Brett Henebery25 Oct 2016

An effective new platform has helped hundreds of schools in one state supercharge their professional development.
 
Eighteen months ago, Independent Schools Queensland began using the Brightspace platform to power its Connect & Learn program, which supports more than 8,500 educators in nearly 200 schools by delivering ongoing professional development for educators and boost student outcomes.
 
Since adopting the new platform, ISQ has been able to provide a range of new courses, including: skills in literacy instruction for diverse sets of students; how to best work with indigenous cultures; leadership practices and marketing strategies for schools.
 
Ever since, ISQ has seen some truly extraordinary results.
 
David Robertson, executive director of Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ), told The Educator that compared with face-to-face meetings that ISQ previously delivered, there had been a 620% increase in participation in the first 6 months since Brightspace’s implementation.
 
The initial goal was 150%.
 
“It’s been highly successful. Over the past 18 months we’ve had nearly 8,000 courses taken up through Connect & Learn across a whole range of educational areas,” he said.
 
“One of the things that schools love most about it is that teachers can do professional learning at their own pace and in their own time rather than having to travel around and do it face-to-face.”
 
Robertson added that apart from helping principals improve teaching and learning outcomes, the program is also “fantastic value for money” for schools struggling to allocate scarce resources.
 
He pointed out that the delivery of learning outcomes via Brightspace has resulted in cost savings of about 75% compared to what it would take to deliver the same results in a face-to-face environment.
 
“Principals are often faced with the challenge of allocating scarce resources across a wide range of people, so this platform has not only streamlined teachers’ professional development but allowed this to be done in a cost-effective way,” he said.
 
“And we believe it’s making a difference in the classroom, because principals are able to better identify what their teachers are doing in terms of their professional development, and then follow up on how they’re improving student outcomes.”
 
Leigh Williams, associate director of teaching & learning at ISQ, told The Educator that the growth in registrations for ISQ’s courses has been “immense” since it came on board.
 
“One of our last courses that we offered, we had 1,200 registrations in the first two weeks, so we’re getting large numbers. This helps us know that what we’re offering is needed out there in our schools,” she said.
 
“We live in an increasingly complex world where schools are being asked to do more and more, and a lot of that is related to improving student outcomes – so having a system like this allows us to have that all-important ‘whole of school’ approach.”
 
In terms of feedback, ISQ found that its highest satisfaction rating among member schools was 70-80% for its face-to-face courses; with Brightspace, it has increased to between 90-98%.
 
“One of the most common types of feedback we get is around the quality of what we’re offering. We make sure that the courses we offer are backed by research and that they deliver on all of the latest educational trends,” Williams said.
 
“The other kind of feedback we get frequently is around the idea of ‘just in time learning’. For example, if teachers need a particular type of learning about literacy instruction, the course is right there. They can start it immediately if they want to.”

 

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