Low-cost Staff Development

Rationale

Web-and-Flow was designed to help change education, and do it on the cheap.

Most schools, districts and states have already invested heavily in infrastructure, computers, and related in-servicing. All of this should have been done to make a direct, positive impact on learning. Yet, all of the above can be put in place at great expense with little or no carry-over into classroom practices.

Web-and-Flow was designed to leverage these investments and to get quickly and inexpensively into the work of helping students learn. One of the best models for achieving this goal is to dedicate at least one person to the task of integrating the Web. This individual or team then gets comfortable with Web-and-Flow's tools, tutorials, and online help, discovering how to apply these resources to local needs. In this way trainers don't have to create everything - just as teachers shouldn't have to. Their job is to assess what's needed, know where to find it, and help people get started.

Learn how it provides a comprehensive curriculum and professional development environment to support all the investments you've already made in hardware, infrastructure and staff training.


The Details

Since 1995, we've been designing Web-based activities and tools to help educators. Why is Web-and-Flow the best answer to the question, "How do we work the Web for Education?" Looking back over where we've come since 1995 might shed some light.

In the early days of the Web, teachers needed to be able to find resources more quickly. We developed Blue Web'n and its unique matrix to point educators to the kind of Web sites that would be most helpful to achieve their learning goals. Some portals still think this is the key mission for educators, but that's not what we heard and saw...

Working with Prof. Bernie Dodge, Tom March developed the WebQuest as one model for creating Web-based activities that actually framed what students were to accomplish. Simply pointing to Web sites does not learning make. But not all classroom learning necessarily revolves around higher-order thinking...

That's why Tom began formulating a variety of Web-based activity formats for using specific kinds of Web sites and questioning techniques. These templates came to be called such things as Topic Hotlists, Knowledge Hunts, Subject Samplers and Concept Builders. This helped educators begin with a framework for their activities so they didn't have to face a blank page. But how do you get a Web-based activity actually up on the Net?...

We launched Filamentality in 1996 as a way to help teachers over three hurdles: 1) coming up with an activity format themselves, learning HTML tags, and figuring out how to FTP pages to a server. We felt that these obstacles unnecessarily slowed down integration of what is an essentially friendly and powerful technology. Web stats prove that Fil is a useful tool, but we've also learned that education could use some help keeping the change process going. Sure, teachers can create one Sampler or even a WebQuest, but what about all those other units that could benefit from Web-integration?

Web-and-Flow carries on where all the above develop leaves off. We've put everything we've learned since 1995 about creating strategies, resources, and tools into the design of what we believe is now needed: an environment. Ongoing change requires convenience, on-demand professional development, and interactive support from real human beings. That's why we've made Web-and-Flow your personal desktop workspace complete with comprehensive tutorials and an online community to keep teachers' momentum going. By making the most of your personnel expenditures through online support and flexible delivery, Web-and-Flow is ready to serve schools and districts of all sizes. Comprehensive Partner Packages are available to large-scale subscribers.

Readings

The following article describes the 10 Stages to Working the Web for Education. This process is integrated into the Web-and-Flow environment. You can read the complete article or refer to a shortened version more suitable for printing. Apply this set of ten milestones to yourself and your staff to design the most appropriate professional development sessions.

Activities

Imagine you are charged with staff development at your school or district. What kinds of training sessions and workshops would you design to meet the needs of your colleagues?

  1. Read The 10 Stages of Working the Web for Education

  2. List the percentage of people who you think might fall into the following categories:

    ______ % - The Innocent
    Those who haven't had enough time on the Web to really get a feel for it.

    ______ % - Beginners
    Those who use the Web in the classroom as single sites or hotlists of additional resources that students can access.

    ______ % - Intermediate
    Those who use Web-based activities like Hunts and Samplers that target achievement of specific learning goals.

    ______ % - Advanced
    Those who regularly use and create advanced kinds of Web-based activities like WebQuests or design their own problem-solving scenarios.

    ______ % - Web Gurus
    Mentors on student ThinkQuest projects or the like. Those who facilitate learning in an individualized and real world approach.

  3. Reflect on how Web-and-Flow could save you time with the following online tutorials:

    Getting to Know the Web
    Surf, Stumble, Search and Lurch your way to learning about the Web by creating your own Personal Homepage

    The Web and Education
    How can you to Work the Web for Education? Read about conceptual models for integrating the Web into learning activities.

    Getting Started with a Topic
    This module helps whip ideas up into a brainstorm and then makes suggestions about how to shape to these powerful beginnings into a learning activity for students.

    Gathering Links
    Avoid the timesuck of searching and gather your links instead. Also learn how to link like you mean it!

    Choosing a Custom Design
    You're the boss, choose a Custom Design based on the goals you have for students.

    Time to Design a WebQuest
    You've used Hotlists and Samplers and want to try your hand at a WebQuest. Nothing's stopping you.

    Moving into Web Publishing
    Once you've Published your Web-and-Flow activity, you've got plenty of options to consider about removing its plain vanilla wrapper. The fun has just begun!

    Outcome

    Based on the background of your learners and the time available for professional development, design a series of in-service workshops or presentations.

    Share your ideas at Web-and-Flow's Club Ed in either a chat session or in the Web Board conference entitled Staff Development Ideas. Feel free to post questions, comments, and elicit feedback from others in the Web-and-Flow community.



© 1999 - 2008 Web-and-Flow and Tom March