One of my favorite things about working in international schools is the consistent, quality professional development on offer. Because we are, in many ways, isolated from the wealth of PD offerings available in our home country, we get to pick and choose exactly what we want and bring it to us!

This year ISB is offering a very exciting Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy course through Buffalo State, State University of New York (SUNY). Not only is this course a direct reflection of the work we have been doing on our ISB21 Team, but we get to teach it as well!

The course will be a direct reflection of our vision of the 21st century learner:

Here’s the general outline of the 5-course certificate program:

Course 1: Information Literacy and Ourselves as Learners:

A foundation course, introducing learners to the methods of information literacy in the 21st century. Independent learning requires that students and teachers are able to evaluate the authenticity, relevance and bias of information that inundates us. Tools and strategies for teachers and students for accessing, filtering, evaluating and applying information will be addressed. This course will address meta-cognition and an awareness of how we learn in a digital landscape. Students will be provided with strategies for reflective practice and using prior knowledge to build understanding and deal with new technology will be incorporated in the course.

Course 2: 21st Century Literacy Ideas, Questions, and Issues:

The 21st Century learner has been bombarded with new technology, access to wide ranging global communication, and a plethora of information. Accompanying this new world of learning are ethical, moral, social, and emotional considerations that are changing the way in which our students are interfacing with the world. This course will explore current issues inherent in our technological world.

Course 3: Visual Literacy: Effective Communicators and Creators:

The curriculum of design and attention to aesthetics has always been the property of the visual arts, however as so much our media is now consumed and created electronically a new set of visual literacies have emerged. Awareness of how an audience interacts with that medium and how to take advantage of this to strengthen their message or purpose for communication will be addressed.

Course 4: Technology: A Catalyst for Learning

Research based best practice for the embedded use of technology for learning will be shared and practiced. The focus will be on the habits that provide students with the ability to use technology for its greatest learning advantage. The best use of laptop computers, Smart boards, etc will be addressed as embedded tools to foster optimum learning of the curriculum. The optimal use of communication tools such as podcasts, blogs, nings, wikis, and voice threads will be addressed with tips for management and strategies to promote maximum learning in classrooms.

Course 5: Alive in the Classroom: Applied Web 2.0 Technology for Learning

The course will be about the classroom application, and reflection on the use of web 2.0 technology in the classroom. Participants will be asked to create a plan for the embedded use of technology to foster learning, share with the group and offer feedback on their cohorts’ embedded use of technology for learning. Did the use of technology lead to deeper learning?

Each course will focus on specific ISTE NETS For Teachers as they relate to our Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions for the 21st century learner.

Jeff and I will be teaching the first course starting in January 2009 (more details here). We’re looking at running 3 face-to-face Saturday sessions between late January and the end of February, and also offering several evening sessions via Elluminate to bring in some experts in the field and to make authentic use of online professional development tools.

Dennis and Chad will be teaching the second course from March – April 2009, and then we’ll most likely pick up again with the third course in the fall of 2009, with the goal of finishing the full certificate program by the end of the 2009-2010 school year.

We had our first introductory meeting with staff last week to see how many teachers would be interested in participating and the room was packed! It’s exciting and inspiring to see how many of our teachers are ready to jump into this kind of course. It will be very interesting to see how this course further develops our growing grassroots professional learning community. I can’t wait to get started!

Have you ever taught or taken a course like this? What advice do you have for us?

9 thoughts on “The University That Comes to You!

  1. This is exciting stuff – not to mention being the best approach to contemporary PD I’ve seen for a long time. I am going to physically drag our crowd over to this article and hover menacingly over them until they have read and absorbed every concept! :)

  2. @Borborigmus (Vyt),

    Thank you! I am really looking forward to seeing how it all works out! We are lucky to be in a school that places such a high value on this type of PD. I would love to hear feedback from your colleagues as well!

  3. Wow Kim! I love this idea!
    It hits the mark on so many levels including having people who are clearly at the leading edge of using the tools instructing on their use.
    Here in Hong Kong we have some great programs run by HKU such as the MSc in Information Technology and Education or Library and Information Management. The issue for me, and I acknowledge that it is a biased one and one that I want someone to take to task for me, is that I do not see a lot of evidence of the course instructors as being “up to speed” as the lead teachers out there in the schools.
    Then again, is this an impossible expectation? Could an academic give me a wider perspective and challenge me to think on a different level?
    This is a great model for higher degree courses for teachers. I remember blogging some time ago about Stephen Heppell setting something like this up but I did not know it was alive and well in Thailand!
    Well Done!

  4. @Paul,

    Thank you for your positive feedback! I’m really looking forward to teaching this course with my colleagues! I agree that creating a community of learners working together to improve a school is an exciting prospect. It will be interesting to see where this course takes us. This isn’t the first time that ISB has offered a course like this, but I do think the content of the course, and the perspectives on teaching and learning will be something new, and something bigger than just your average professional development….

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