Professional development for educators
Professional development is an important way for teachers to improve their strategies, methods and understanding of their work. To provide teachers with the tools they need, a professional development market (also known as “PD”) has evolved around online and offline tools built for teacher education.
This list is a guide to the major and minor players in the PD field. Our analysis of each competitor shows that PD 360 from the School Improvement Network has the most tools and training videos in the industry and they are also one of the most inexpensive. Teachers can purchase individual licenses for PD 360 for $ 125, but the cheapest method is to buy a license for an entire school or district, which often drives the price well below $ 100 per. License.
Each school and district must determine what their needs are and what is most effective. We hope to have been as open and objective as possible in the following analysis.
PD 360 – School Improvement Network
PD 360 has 1,500+ videos, training from 120 experts, 97 topics, a community of 700,000, new content added daily, and a year’s full access costs about $ 100 or less per teacher. The platform also integrates with an observational tool equipped with prescription technology, Common Core Standards training and a unique product for Title I. schools The PD 360 community is closed to the public.
Pros: You get the most bang for your buck. The PD 360’s entire platform costs less per teacher than a course from any of its competitors.
Cons: The platform is currently built in Flash.
Bottom line: School improvement networks provide a truth tour de force it is unstoppably efficient and cost effective.
EdWeb has a K12 Educator Store that sells ebooks and teacher material, but it is not presented as a focused resource for teacher improvement. The store and its products are open and accessible to anyone, even though the main product seems to be the online learning environment. The number of users is not published.
Benefits: EdWeb sends weekly emails to help subscribers stay up to date.
Disadvantages: The community is open access, which means that you do not need to be a teacher to participate in the forums. The user interface is very difficult to navigate and community participation is small.
Bottom line: EdWeb’s website only provides forum features – no professional development is associated with the community. EdWeb sends useful emails, but the community is difficult to navigate.
Schoolnet focuses on improving education through data analytics and positions itself as “the leader in data-driven education for K-12 school systems.” They have an open community and their site seems to provide professional development solutions la carte. The number of experts, users and community participants has not been published. Pearson Education purchased Schoolnet in April 2011.
Benefits: Pearson Education is likely to be able to expand Schoolnet’s resources.
Cons: Community is open access. Their products are not a comprehensive whole.
Bottom line: Schoolnet provides free resources on their site to help educators as much as possible. They have connected tools to their community, and Pearson Education is likely to be able to expand Schoolnet’s resources.
Edutopia is supported by the George Lucas Education Foundation. Edutopia provides 150 free videos, averaging four minutes each, a community of over 100,000 members, and other free resources for professional education development. The community is open access so the public can and do participate in the forums.
Benefits: The free materials are of high quality and the community has good participation.
Cons: The materials and resources are limited, the community is open to the public and the community is relatively small.
Bottom line: Edutopia may be one of the best free resources available to teachers, but resources are very limited.
SimpleK12 offers a community as the largest professional development solution. The community does not have free registration, as all other societies have in this competitive analysis; a registration fee of $ 297 per. years gives a person access to the community. SimpleK12 claims to earn 500,000 worldwide and offers 500 hours of classroom technology how-to videos for the community.
Benefits: If the community serves 500,000, there could potentially be good participation.
Cons: There is no way to test the product without buying it and it is quite expensive.
Bottom line: SimpleK12 is expensive and blurry.
Knowledge Delivery Systems
Knowledge Delivery Systems (KDS) has eClassroom, mVal, eWalk and custom PD programs for some of its main products. KDS does not provide a community, but it provides a way for educators who follow the same course to communicate with each other. The eClassroom product is the platform on which educators follow courses that they purchase one at a time. The MVal product is an evaluation tool and eWalk is a class review tool. KDS offers approximately 760 hours of training videos from 55 experts.
Benefits: Educators have up to 760 hours of content from which to select and evaluate tools that work effectively.
Disadvantages: The observation and evaluation tools are not integrated with a professional development platform, KDS offers no community, and districts and teachers buy one course at a time.
Bottom line: KDS primarily offers specialized courses where teachers can get college credit, but they are not intended to be a district solution.
Teachscape offers courses that one school or district should buy one at a time. They offer 108 courses from 12 experts from July 2011. Teachscape’s tour de force is the 360-degree camera technology they use with their classroom observation platform.
Pros: Teachscape boasts a 360-degree camera for their observation technology.
Disadvantages: Teachscape’s professional development, like many other companies in the industry, is only available one course at a time from only twelve experts. They also do not offer an online professional learning community.
Bottom line: Teachscape provides comprehensive training and any training should be universally applied.
ASCD is a non-profit organization serving 160,000 educators in 148 countries with countless products. ASCD offers multiple levels of membership, from a $ 25 student membership to a $ 219 premium membership (as of July 2011). ASCD offers several professional development solutions, including PD in Focus, a professional development platform with 90 hours of video and 49 experts. The community is theoretically open to everyone, but the group facilitator must approve each member.
Benefits: ASCD has many resources available, which means that users have the ability to access many resources in one place.
Cons: The resources are sparsely thin, and the actual PD training is minimal only 90 hours, 55 hours and a small community.
Bottom line: ASCD is affordable because of their division of membership. There are good resources, but these resources are scattered thin.
PBS teacher line
PBS Teacherline delivers 130 graduate-level courses for teachers. They recently added Peer Connection, their own online community. The courses and training points are available one at a time and separate licenses are purchased for each user.
Pros: The number of graduate programs available is tempting for anyone who wants to get on in school while in his career.
Cons: Society is not free, and educators have to pay for every resource they use rather than having an open library. The licenses make it possible to give specific training to several teachers a logistical challenge.
Bottom line: PBS teacher line is a great opportunity if educators want to work towards a higher degree.
The Annenberg Foundation has set up Learner.org to provide free educational resources online. Learner.org has great resources for the average student, but the site is not built for professional development on a district or school-wide scale.
Pros: Everything is quality and everything is free.
Cons: Learner.org is not a sustainable resource for specific training as its PD content is limited.
Bottom line: Learner.org is the professional teacher’s dream, but it is not a source of classroom management training or teaching techniques.
Staff development for educators
Staff Development for Teachers (SDE) coordinates both traditional and online professional development. SDE does not provide a community where you can collaborate, and online courses are only available with individual licenses. Teachers can choose one of the 54 courses to buy and follow online.
Pros: It’s simple and straightforward: every teacher buys a course and finishes it.
Cons: SDE does not provide a library, community or real PD platform.
Bottom line: SDE started out as a traditional PD business and they have retained that model even in their online endeavors.
Feel free to leave comments about aspects we may have missed, companies you have seen or used, and your honest and respectful opinion on what has worked for you.