Friday, July 17, 2015

3 Smashing Tools to Create Online PD (Part 1)

We all want to make professional development more convenient for our teachers, but how do we actually do it?

For the summer, my district wanted to expand our PD offerings by looking at a combination of virtual and face-to-face trainings. Our goal was for teachers to be able to take fully online classes and also have flipped/blended options where half of the course is online and the other half is in person.

Since we don't use a district-wide LMS, I decided to go with a bit of app-smashing using ClassMill for content, Google Forms for assessment, and Autocrat for distributing certificates. 

This post will focus on creating an online class in ClassMill, part 2 will look at setting up and embedding a Form, and part 3 will go through how to set up Autocrat to do the dirty work of certificate distribution for you.

ClassMill is a free tool to create online classes. It's easy to learn, and once you understand the basics (conveniently located in that playlist down there), you can pull together text, videos, links and files to build your class in modules for your teachers.

There are a couple different ways you can choose to use Classmill:
  1. Link Warehouse
    Some of our coaches and coordinators just needed a starting place for our teachers to get to content in other places, so they built modules made up solely of directions and links to take teachers where they needed to go.

  2. Curation
    Other coaches had specific videos on YouTube or Vimeo that they wanted teachers to watch, so they embedded those in the courses. You don't have to create custom content for an effective online course, just use what's already out there (with permission, of course).

  3. Original Content
    I'm a severe control freak. With that in mind, I like to make all my own training and tutorial videos. So if you choose to, you can also record screencasts (with a tool like Screencast-o-Matic) or live presentations (with a Swivl or your phone), upload them to YouTube, then add them to your course. This is the route that a few of us took in creating our courses.
However you choose to use Classmill, you have the flexibility to make it work for you, your time constraints, and your content.

You can take a look at my class here, then check out the Small Bytes playlist below (thanks to Alice Keeler for the inspiration to keep the videos short) for step-by-step directions on setting up your first class.

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