Magazine article District Administration

Apps Open Next Frontier for Teacher PD

Magazine article District Administration

Apps Open Next Frontier for Teacher PD

Article excerpt

A new wave of apps connects teachers with mobile access to professional development and expands opportunities for collaboration with mentors and peers.

"When apps first started, they were basically for entertainment or information," says Robbie Melton, associate vice chancellor of mobilization emerging technology at the Tennessee Board of Regents. "As mobile devices evolved, we now have a wealth of information and apps for education and workforce development."

Melton is a member of ISTE's mobile learning committee and a self-proclaimed "appologist," or someone who reviews educational apps to find the best for classroom use. Last year, Melton's Tennessee team launched its own site, App-A-Pedia, which allows educators to search for apps in more than 150 different academic areas, including PD.

Melton gets requests every month from teachers and curriculum advisors looking for apps. Teachers can access these on mobile devices to participate in a webinar or watch a coaching video, for example. "As the tech advances, we're going to see a lot of training shifted to that platform," Melton says. New tools like the iWatch may further increase mobile PD accessibility, she adds.

Some apps allow teachers to videotape themselves so they can get instant feedback from peers and mentors. Other apps can save districts money on travel costs by connecting them virtually with consultants who answer teacher questions and provide lesson coaching.

CIOs remain responsible for handling cost, safety and security, and sometimes maintenance of teacher PD apps. They also have to check the reliability of using the apps on mobile devices, rather than on a laptop or desktop.

Melton offers the following recommendations for moving to apps-based PD:

* Have a strategic plan. "Some PD is best face-to-face. But like flipped classrooms, this is flipped PD, and has benefits," Melton says. …

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