Knowledge Delivery Systems (KDS) is a system that provides both formal and informal learning opportunities. Its Professional Learning Platform (PLP) allows teachers and administrators to take courses, engage in social groups, share and search for resources, set goals, and track progress through downloadable transcripts and badges that are awarded for course completion. Users also have access to more formal learning opportunities, such as the company’s 50-hour graduate level courses.
Formal coursework is delivered through a portion of the PLP called eClassroom. Courses can be purchased from KDS or districts can use the platform to build their own.
Districts can adopt the platform to give teachers a chance to set goals, access content that’s tagged to those goals, create groups and assign district-wide PD courses. They can also purchase courses for their teachers, as well as online coaching services from KDS. Coaches will work with teachers for 4-6 hours on each course through the coaching features on the platform.
KDS course creators will also train the district’s own coaches to blend the online course content with onsite coaching. Individual teachers can also enroll in KDS courses, but they are responsible for the cost.
For an additional fee, KDS offers customized in-person leadership training to the district’s own coaches which typically lasts three months and include a three day intensive experience with the expert who built the course, along with ongoing capacity building. During this time, on site coaches deepen their understanding of the structure of the courses, the platform and how to coach teachers as they take their own courses.
- 50-hour graduate level courses available for credit
- Course creation tool for districts to design their own courses
- Pre-populated resource library including videos, files and articles that districts and teachers can add to
- Collaborative space for peer communication and collaboration
Three things make KDS’ tools distinctive. The PLP homepage of resources is targeted to the individual user based on their goals or behavior on the platform. This means that teachers don’t have to go searching for content that’s relevant to them because that content is instantly surfaced on their homepage.
The 50-hour online courses are taught by experts in the educational space, and are facilitated by a trained instructor. Teachers can receive PD credit for the courses they take and can opt into receiving graduate level credit for an additional fee (approximately $200 per course).
KDS also offers additional services to districts, such as its blended approach to professional development that fuses its online platform with onsite coaching. This provides a stronger connection between what teachers learn in their courses and what they learn through in person coaching.
How It Works
The bulk of KDS’ functionality revolves around what they call the Professional Learning Platform (PLP). Teachers and administrators can use the PLP to take courses, engage in social groups, set goals and track progress through downloadable transcripts.
Before a teacher starts to use the system, KDS integrates the district’s HR or PD Management systems to import basic user profile information such as names and positions. Districts have the option of uploading teacher evaluation to the platform as well. Once this basic information is uploaded, the teacher receives their login information.
To get started, a teacher confirms basic information such as name, position, subject area and the grade level he/she teaches. In addition, users are asked to check off topics of interest from a large list (ex: school culture, common core, digital literacy). This allows KDS to personalize the user’s home screen with customized recommendations for PD. Teachers can update their information and interests at any time in their settings.
These recommendations are further tailored as the teacher performs self assessments, sets goals and evaluates their progress toward those goals on the platform. According to the KDS team, a user’s recommended content changes daily.
Once a teacher is logged in, there are a variety of options. The teacher can choose to take a course, browse resources from the video library, engage with the community, share their own resources or take a self-assessment and create personal goals that are aligned to their school or district.
All courses offered on KDS are delivered through a portion of the platform called eClassroom, which is used exclusively to facilitate courses. As of summer 2014 there are 70 courses available and KDS will have built 30 more courses by the end of 2014. These 50-hour courses are asynchronous. There are no strict due dates, though they have a recommended pace of two to three months and are typically completed in that amount of time.
Generally, a district pre-assigns a course (or multiple courses) for its teachers. Upon logging into KDS, these pre-assigned courses appear on the teacher’s home page under “My Courses.” Teachers can also choose their own courses based on their interests and needs, however the teacher is responsible for the cost if the courses are not provided by the district. When a teacher logs into KDS and clicks “My Courses” on the navigation bar, they can see the courses they are registered for, courses they must take for compliance, and completed courses.
KDS also offers a course creation tool so that districts can craft their own courses and assign them to teachers.
Each course has a syllabus, texts, reflections, classroom videos and a video of the expert presenter. Videos must be streamed and broadband Internet connection is required. There is a digital notepad for note-taking and learners can bookmark resources that have been shared within the course that they wish to go back to at a later time.
Courses have a pre-assessment, comprehension checks, a mid-term project and a final “capstone” project. The projects vary and are dependent on the course content. For example, for a course on the Common Core State Standards for ELA, one project is to compose a letter to students’ families explaining how the new standards are impacting instruction, including tips on how families can support students at home. Another project is to create an outline of the Common Core shifts in ELA for colleagues. Projects are graded by rubric. Grading for other coursework is configurable, and is decided upon by the district (can be a numeric grade, letter grade or pass/fail).
Microsoft Lync is integrated with KDS so teachers can interact with each other through instant messages, calls, video chats, group video chats, screen sharing and tools such as a whiteboard.
KDS hires online course facilitators to hold office hours online, manage discussion forums, grade midterms and finals that are not auto-graded and respond to submitted course work. The online course facilitators can integrate resources from the KDS library and recommend them to an individual student or to the rest of the class. For Strategic PD engagements, there is also an onsite coach who provides face-to-face support around course content for teachers.
All coursework can be downloaded into a transcript as a PDF. This can serve as a portfolio where teachers can keep track of and display their work. All courses are available for CEU or graduate level credit, with an added fee of about $200 that is paid by the teacher. If a teacher takes a course for credit, he/she will typically receive a certificate as well as a KDS badge at the time of completion. KDS can report credits at the district or state level depending on the arrangement with the district. They can also link this data back into the HR or PD management system if the district prefers.
When KDS is working with a district as a Salary Advancement Provider, they report directly back to the central office. In some states, KDS is a state provider and will submit courses for CEU or graduate level credit to the state on behalf of each individual teacher.
KDS has a library that houses a repository of 600 on-demand videos. These resources are free resources (like videos from The Teaching Channel and articles from Edutopia) curated by the content team at KDS, who scores content on multiple criteria before they add it to the library.
Users can browse videos by subject, grade level, topic and observation/evaluation framework. Users can use keyword searches that will find content of all types. For example, if a user searches “Math for grade 6,” they will get a collection of videos, users, groups, files and available courses that relate to that search term. Trending videos also appear on the homescreen.
The content recommendations on the user’s home screen change over time based on the choices a user has made, goals they have set and how other users are interacting with them.
Districts also have control over content. While KDS pre-populates the library, districts can add their own content. Districts can also prioritize the websites (such as The Teaching Channel or Edutopia) that the system will browse for to include both resources on the system and resources searched on the web, external to the system.
Teachers and administrators can also upload and annotate content such as videos, links and files. Users can also tag specific moments in the videos they upload.
The KDS library gives users the ability to share or comment on videos and resources, and allows users to follow each other. Content can be shared with an individual or with a group.
There is also a grouping mechanism where teachers can search for groups on the platform, or can create their own groups and set them to private or public. For example, a teacher may want to start a CCSS Implementation team so that they can collaborate with their colleagues to brainstorm around that topic and share resources with each other. When a group is set to private, it is invitation only. All public groups are searchable in the library. Members of groups can organize events, schedule meetings and download meeting information into their own personal calendars.
They can also hold synchronous meetings or webinars using the Microsoft Lync tool, which is integrated into the system, along with the entire Microsoft 365 Suite. Users who are taking a course can use this tool to interact around a particular idea or resource. They can instant message, call, video conference and screen share with each other around a particular idea or piece of content right inside the KDS platform.
Users can take a self-assessment and create personal goals that are aligned with the goals of their school or district. The purpose of the self-assessments is twofold. First, it aims to help the system make strong recommendations, and secondly it supports teachers in setting goals and creating an individualized learning plan.
The self-assessment asks users to rate themselves in multiple categories such as classroom management, instruction, and preparation & planning. The three ratings teachers can choose from are: I’m looking for help, I’m confident in this area, and I’m an expert. These categories can be determined by the district. After assessing themselves, users can set goals and create learning plans (including objectives and target completion dates) in direct relation to the categories in their self-assessments. Administrators can also push out specific learning tasks to a teacher’s plan based on a shared challenge or difficulty across the school.
Teachers can use the data from their assessments to create goals to work on with their coaches, or through resources and coursework. Then teachers can begin uploading evidence that is aligned to their goals such as lesson plans or videos.
For Site Administration
A common use of the grouping feature is to create a separate environment where a coach can work with a teacher. In this space, a coach can interact virtually with a teacher through Microsoft Lync or by sharing resources, journaling or commenting on videos the teacher uploads of their own practice. There is also a set of coaching tools including tools for goal setting, sharing resources and a calendar so that a coach can share dates with a teacher (or group of teachers). Coaching events such as observations can be tracked and recorded in this space as well.
Administrators can access a teacher’s transcript and download it as a PDF, and can track engagement by viewing a number of reports. These reports include information on which courses teachers are taking, which courses each teacher has completed and how engaged each teacher is in the PLP.
Engagement is measured in a number of ways. KDS tracks how frequently a teacher logs in and how long they stay on the site. For informal learning, KDS collects data on how frequently a teacher engages with the community through discussion, uploading and sharing resources, downloading resources to use, and more. For formal coursework, KDS tracks performance on assessments and projects, as well as interaction with online coaches.
How It Is Used
KDS is used to support teachers and administrators in ongoing learning and career advancement. For many, this means completing graduate level coursework for credit. Some states and districts explicitly recognize KDS courses for credit. Most states allow districts to submit KDS courses for CEU or graduate level credit. In states that do not have pre-approval requirements, teachers can submit KDS coursework for credit.
For strategic PD engagements, a district often decides on a district-wide course that aligns with their goals, purchases seats for that course and pre-registers teachers. Sometimes districts use the course creation tool to design their own courses.
Additionally, courses are also available for teachers that do not work in districts with access to the PLP. These teachers can register for courses, but are responsible for the cost and there is less support (Ex: no onsite coaching and less online course facilitation).
Gallup McKinley School District in New Mexico is using KDS’ full “strategic PD” offering. This rural district has a strong culture of PLCs and collaborative practice. They are very focused on developing understanding around the Common Core State Standards. The district uses KDS’ online professional learning platform paired with face-to-face coaching. They were able to take their collaborative culture and integrate it with the course content. Teachers in one school take courses together as a single cohort.
In a less formal way, districts use KDS as a space where teachers can collaborate with their colleagues.
Within all courses, there are multiple measures of growth including checks for understanding, frequent written reflections and exams. Facilitators grade this work, and provide feedback to teachers. Teachers can track their progress by downloading their transcript in a PDF.
Grading is configurable and is dependent on the district. For example, a district can choose to have students receive a letter grade, a numeric grade or a pass fail. This will also depend on the district’s credit structure.
Administrators and central office staff have access to various reports at the school and teacher levels as well as data for each specific course. They can access a number of reports including but not limited to:
- Registration for the courses
- Progress on course completion
- Percentage of users who have passed and failed each course
- How engaged each teacher is with the PLP
- Engagement with coaches
The central office also has access to reporting on individual teachers so that they can see how many courses a teacher has completed as well as grades earned and credits achieved by viewing or downloading a teacher’s transcript as a PDF.
Setup and Implementation
When a district decides to use KDS tools, KDS’ implementation specialists meet with the central office staff to develop an implementation plan. The implementation plan is customized for each district according to its content preferences as well as state and district priorities.
During the initial meetings, KDS works to develop an understanding of the district’s goals for content and pedagogy. The implementation plan is documented in a guide (approximately 20 pages) that includes objectives, timeline, number of participants, roll out, registration and program design.
The implementation team also work with the district to explore options for onsite coaching that links to their courses. In some instances, the district has their own coaches, and in other instances KDS will work with a district to hire coaches. The implementation-planning phase is also a time to discuss any additional customizations (including integrations) that the district wants.
If the district decides to purchase the leadership training, a 3 month in-person training for onsite coaches, the expert who built a specific course can be brought in to work directly with the onsite coaches. Once onsite coaches are trained, they are responsible for facilitating the kickoff with teachers at their school.
Training and Support
Training to use the PLP tool is simple. It includes a large set of resources within the platform such as how-to guides, videos, and opportunities to participate in webinars. There are also in-person trainings that are available for an extra fee. These are typically for a small group of individuals in leadership positions such as administrators and onsite coaches.
The training for strategic PD becomes more complex and can take on various forms based on the desires and needs of the district. Typically, there is direct training for onsite coaches to deepen their understanding of the structure of the program and to introduce the platform. After that, coaches generally take or audit courses and then do a 1-2 day training, often with the author of the course (this is an additional fee). The onsite coaches that have been trained by KDS usually facilitate training for teachers at their school.
Support happens in a number of ways. There is a help desk where users can call or email questions about the platform. Online course facilitators hold office hours regularly so that teachers can call in or email questions about their courses and get feedback. In addition, KDS reaches out to users through support email reminders and announcements. If a school is falling behind with their engagement numbers according to KDS’ reports, the school-based facilitator is contacted via email.
KDS has a variety of technology and/or course related integrations with the following vendors.
- MyLearning Plan
KDS is open to integrating with any third party PD Management or HR system at the request of a district. Additional integrations may cost extra.
KDS customizes the name and logo for each district and creates a single sign-on process for users.
For their strategic PD, KDS configures courses for each district. It customizes the landing page, the facilitator guide and the questions used in the self-assessment that teachers use to set their goals.
KDS is willing and able to customize their product for each roll out, but additional customizations may cost extra.
The Professional Learning Platform (PLP) ranges from $50 to $100 per teacher annually, which includes access to the platform, curated resources and 255 short compliance courses.
The 50-hour online courses cost an additional $279 per teacher. If the district wishes to add online coaching, which includes four-to-six hours of individual online coaching from one of KDS’ coaches, the cost is $180 per teacher. Teachers can opt to gain graduate level credit by paying a fee of approximately $200. Individual teachers and administrators can also take courses, but they are responsible for the entire cost.
In person leadership training can cost anywhere from $400 to $900 per person, depending on the level of support needed.
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