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Gives administrators the ability to assign teachers PD videos with customized follow up questions


Releasedin March 2007, PD in Focus was designed to be a professional developmentresource that can be used by entire schools and/or districts, and by bothteachers and administrators. It is essentially a catalog of over 1,000 videosincluding teachers teaching, slide presentations, and lectures by experts. Thinkof it as “flipping” PD for teachers before flipping the classroom was cool.

PDin Focus allows administrators to create video-based assignments for teachersthat they can distribute to specific groups of teachers and monitor theirprogress. Principals, who log in as either “leaders” or “facilitators,” canassign certain videos to teachers, create customized response questions, andcreate a related discussion board. This PD is meant to be both self-directedand facilitated by administrators for teachers. PD in Focus offers a freetwo-week trial and typically is licenses to  schools or districts.

  • PD Purpose: Engage, Learn
  • Primary Users: Teachers, Administration
  • Primary Purchase: Administration
  • Cost: One year site (large school or small district) license $1695, multiple sites for a district with bulk discounts
  • Skill Development: Pedagogy skills and content knowledge
  • On-Brand Use: Teachers can watch videos, gain content knowledge, and participate in administrator-led assignments.
  • Platforms: Web-based, any browser
  • Deal breakers: Requires significant investment in time and funds. PD in Focus requires a school or district to purchase the PD.
  • Types of Schools Using It: Ranges from small schools to state departments

Product Brief

Value Added

PDin Focus gives administrators more control over professional development onlineand helps them personalize learning for their teaching staff.

Manyadministrators have difficulty tracking teacher participation in asynchronousonline professional development. Because it provides administrators withreports on which teachers have watched the content (and which have not),  the tool helps administrators hold teachersaccountable.

Thishelps school communities create a greater sense of accountability aroundcompleting professional development on teachers’ own time.)

How does it work?

The Videos

PDin Focus offers a library with more than 1,000 videos that cover f topics asvaried as school culture and the Common Core. Videos are categorized intochannels. For example, the videos on the Common Core channel dig into topicslike creating Common Core aligned-lesson plans and how the Common Core wasdeveloped. There are over 20 video channels; new content is released everymonth.

PDin Focus Channels include:

  • The Art and Science of Teaching
  • The Common Core
  • The Common Core Webinars Channel
  • School Culture and Climate: Addressing Bullying
  • Curriculum Mapping
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • English Language Learners
  • Enhancing Professional Practice
  • Formative Assessment
  • Literacy Strategies
  • ASCD Master Class - Season One
  • ASCD Master Class - Season Two
  • Problem-Based Learning for the 21st Century Classroom
  • Best Practices in Action
  • Cooperative Learning
  • The Brain and Learning
  • Giving Effective Feedback to Your Students
  • Implementing RTI in Secondary Schools
  • Never Work Harder Than Your Students (ha!)
  • The Whole Child
  • Video Programs
  • High Schools at Work
  • Getting Started with PD In Focus

Videosrange in length from short, under-15-minute clips to longer hour-plus videoprograms. Video content includes classroom videos of best practices, webinars,teaching methodologies, and insights from ASCD authors and experts. Theseexperts are chosen by the ACSD content team based on their research around whois influential in a field.

PDin Focus Experts include (but are not limited to):

  • Robert Marzano (The Art and Science of Teaching)
  • Charlotte Danielson (Enhancing Professional Practice)
  • Carol Ann Tomlinson (Differentiated Instruction)
  • Heidi Hayes Jacobs (Curriculum Mapping)
  • Robyn Jackson (Never Work Harder Than Your Students )
  • Eric Jensen (The Brain and Learning)
  • Douglas Fisher (Formative Assessment)

Videosand clips are all tagged and searchable by topic, grade level, subject area,classroom type, and pedagogy.


PDin Focus provides three sign-in categories for each site: teacher, leader, andfacilitator. There can be as many of each as desired by the school or district.Each level of sign-in has different features. For example, leaders andfacilitators can create assignments for teachers and view reports of theirfinished work. Leaders can also appoint facilitators to create assignments forteachers. Teachers can be grouped together and given the same assignment by aleader or facilitator.

Forexample, a leader (typically a principal?) can appoint a department head (whois responsible for the teachers in that department) to be a facilitator..Leaders and facilitators will be informed when teachers have watched anassigned video, and will receive answers from participating teachers to anyfollow up questions or discussion. Leaders and facilitators can also createcustom channels and include relevant videos and clips from outside sources(including YouTube or videos created by the district.)

Whenfacilitators create assignments, they go to the resource (the video, document,etc.) they want to assign and click the green “Create Assignment” (figure 1).This launches a window that walks them through a three-step process for makingthe assignment: (1) select who gets the assignment (from one person to everyonein the account); (2) pick a due date and choose whether the recipients shouldbe notified via email; and (3, optional) write any custom instructions (figure2).

Leaders andfacilitators can choose to participate in groups and monitor activity.Facilitators and leaders can also create custom reports based on group andindividual activity that includes completed assignments, comments on boards,and additional learning activities like journaling or note taking. The reportscan be made as precise as necessary by using a filter feature that can filterany activity that may be extraneous.

Typesof Reports:

  • All Assignments Report - PD “Leaders” have access to the All Assignments report. PD “Leaders” can generate reports to learn about members who have access to the same PD In Focus license as they do, what resources each facilitator assigned, to whom they assigned the resource, when an assignment is due, and who has or has not completed the assignment.
  • Accessed Report - PD “Leaders” have access to the Resources Accessed report. PD “Leaders” can generate reports to learn about members who have access to the same PD In Focus license as they do, what resources members have viewed, when they were viewed, and the groups with which each person is associated.
  • By Teacher Report - PD “Leaders” have access to the By Teacher report. By running this report, they learn what resources were accessed by teachers within their account.  
  • Totals By Teacher Report - PD “Leaders have” access to the Totals By Teacher report. This report shows them the resource totals of teachers within their account(s). It shows the number of unique accounts, unique teachers, total resources, last viewed date, and the number of views.
  • I Assigned Report - PD “Facilitators” can generate the I Assigned report to see all assignments they have created. This report allows PD “Facilitators” to filter by teacher, due date, completion date, and completion level.

How is it used?

PDin Focus allows for school or district-wide differentiated professionaldevelopment. The videos can exist alongside other PD, such as onsite learningor courses, and can be used as stand-alone materials for each teacher. The toolallows administrators to communicate with teachers and follow their progress.It also allows groups of teachers to interact with each other whileparticipating in a learning experience.

Schoolsuse PD in Focus to generate school-wide PD support. The tool allows teachers toaccess, view, and rate relevant videos, discuss with other teachers online, andkeep track of content that they have used through saved libraries, favorites,and history reports. Additionally, administrators who are signed in asfacilitators or leaders can create or suggest assignments, set up learninggroups amongst the teachers and create discussion boards. Assignments caninclude one video or a set of videos, follow-up questions, journaling, andrelated discussions.

For example, the Queens, NY middle school I.S.73, , used PD in Focus to provide a flexible and user-facing PD solution fortheir teachers. Led by administrator facilitators, small groups of teacherswatched the same video, completed assigned questions, and participated in asmall group discussion online. Because the content was assigned and facilitatedby someone else, teachers were able to concentrate on the discussion about andimplementation of the new material, rather than on searching to find relevantmaterials. After teachers implemented a technique in their classrooms, theywent back to the discussion board, still facilitated by an administrator, andshared what worked and what did not.

Who’s Using It?

ASCDis a very broad organization that has been provided all types of PD for manyyears. With this background, PD in Focus has reached various types of schoolsfrom public to private. PD in Focus can be purchased and assigned on thedistrict and state level as well.

Mostof these users are e in public or private K-12 school. But the system is usedby some higher ed and educational support organizations. Currently, there are morethan 10,000 users signed up for PD in Focus.  The tool is used by schools in the NYC PublicSchool District, The Killeen Independent School District, among others.

Content, Content, Content….

Thereare over 20 channels of content with over 1,000 categorized videos on the PD inFocus site. Content ranges from curriculum specific topics like teaching theCommon Core, differentiating instruction, and teaching English languagelearners, to broader school issues like culture and enhancing professionalpractice.

Allcontent is decided on and created by the ASCD content team in collaborationwith ASCD experts. These experts come from a variety of affiliations and workwith ASCD to develop relevant and useful content for teachers. Generally theexperts have had some prior association with ASCD. The content team will also occasionallyreach out to a new expert based on his or her research and influence in thefield.

PDin Focus has an entire channel dedicated to the Common Core State Standards.Resources on this channel include how to approach literacy and math in theclassroom using new tools and guidelines. Videos provide discussions of theCommon Core, and best practices of using these standards in the classroom.

Otherchannels include best teaching practices and methodologies. Videos include howto ensure all students are able to reach their goals, how to best outline acurriculum, and ways to use formative assessment to enhance learning in theclassroom.

TheASCD Master Class, which is a channel available on the PD in Focus site, is afive-part video series hosted by Claudio Sanchez, an education correspondentfor NPR. The Master Class is a discussion among guest experts that look atdifficult and thought-provoking issues in education.

Training, Integrating, and Implementing


Fornew accounts, the ASCD WebHelp team works with each client to set up the systemspecifically for its needs. WebHelp works with clients to enroll users andassists them at the start of the implementation.

Enrollmentas an individual is simply a sign-up form with standard questions such as name,address, and desired username. For districts, WebHelp will import all teachersand administrators into the system, provide them with usernames and passwords,and link the accounts to each other. Afterward, WebHelp is available to assistwith any troubleshooting or questions. Both the implementation work and theongoing support are part of the standard pricing.


Thewebsite and ASCD videos exist only on the site and cannot be exported. ASCD willintegrate some of its videos into larger school systems, such as those built byTruenorthlogic.


PDin Focus is expensive and should be purchased at the school or district level.  



PDin Focus is web-based and can be accessed through the ASCD site or at The site is optimizedfor all browser-accessing tools including desktops, laptops, tablets, and cellphones.


Aone-year PD in Focus site license for a large school or small district is $1695.Bulk discounts are available for districts and states.


The Teaching Channel offershundreds of online videos, similar to those of PD in Focus. PD in Focus distinguishesitself by allowing administrators to push out specific content to specificgroups of teachers with the option of creating customized reflection questions. 


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Academic Content Academic Content

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Asynchronous Modules Asynchronous Modules

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