in March 2007, PD in Focus was designed to be a professional development
resource that can be used by entire schools and/or districts, and by both
teachers and administrators. It is essentially a catalog of over 1,000 videos
including teachers teaching, slide presentations, and lectures by experts. Think
of it as “flipping” PD for teachers before flipping the classroom was cool.
PD in Focus allows administrators to create video-based assignments for teachers that they can distribute to specific groups of teachers and monitor their progress. Principals, who log in as either “leaders” or “facilitators,” can assign certain videos to teachers, create customized response questions, and create a related discussion board. This PD is meant to be both self-directed and facilitated by administrators for teachers. PD in Focus offers a free two-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
in Focus gives administrators more control over professional development online
and helps them personalize learning for their teaching staff.
Many administrators have difficulty tracking teacher participation in asynchronous online professional development. Because it provides administrators with reports on which teachers have watched the content (and which have not), the tool helps administrators hold teachers accountable.
helps school communities create a greater sense of accountability around
completing professional development on teachers’ own time.)
How does it work?
PD in Focus offers a library with more than 1,000 videos that cover f topics as varied as school culture and the Common Core. Videos are categorized into channels. For example, the videos on the Common Core channel dig into topics like creating Common Core aligned-lesson plans and how the Common Core was developed. There are over 20 video channels; new content is released every month.
in 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
Videos range in length from short, under-15-minute clips to longer hour-plus video programs. Video content includes classroom videos of best practices, webinars, teaching methodologies, and insights from ASCD authors and experts. These experts are chosen by the ACSD content team based on their research around who is influential in a field.
PD in 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)
Videos and clips are all tagged and searchable by topic, grade level, subject area, classroom type, and pedagogy.
PD in Focus provides three sign-in categories for each site: teacher, leader, and facilitator. 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 and facilitators can create assignments for teachers and view reports of their finished work. Leaders can also appoint facilitators to create assignments for teachers. Teachers can be grouped together and given the same assignment by a leader or facilitator.
For example, a leader (typically a principal?) can appoint a department head (who is responsible for the teachers in that department) to be a facilitator.. Leaders and facilitators will be informed when teachers have watched an assigned video, and will receive answers from participating teachers to any follow up questions or discussion. Leaders and facilitators can also create custom channels and include relevant videos and clips from outside sources (including YouTube or videos created by the district.)
When facilitators 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 making the assignment: (1) select who gets the assignment (from one person to everyone in the account); (2) pick a due date and choose whether the recipients should be notified via email; and (3, optional) write any custom instructions (figure 2).
Leaders and facilitators can choose to participate in groups and monitor activity. Facilitators and leaders can also create custom reports based on group and individual activity that includes completed assignments, comments on boards, and additional learning activities like journaling or note taking. The reports can be made as precise as necessary by using a filter feature that can filter any activity that may be extraneous.
Types of 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?
PD in Focus allows for school or district-wide differentiated professional development. The videos can exist alongside other PD, such as onsite learning or courses, and can be used as stand-alone materials for each teacher. The tool allows administrators to communicate with teachers and follow their progress. It also allows groups of teachers to interact with each other while participating in a learning experience.
Schools use PD in Focus to generate school-wide PD support. The tool allows teachers to access, view, and rate relevant videos, discuss with other teachers online, and keep track of content that they have used through saved libraries, favorites, and history reports. Additionally, administrators who are signed in as facilitators or leaders can create or suggest assignments, set up learning groups amongst the teachers and create discussion boards. Assignments can include one video or a set of videos, follow-up questions, journaling, and related discussions.
For example, the Queens, NY middle school I.S. 73, , used PD in Focus to provide a flexible and user-facing PD solution for their teachers. Led by administrator facilitators, small groups of teachers watched the same video, completed assigned questions, and participated in a small group discussion online. Because the content was assigned and facilitated by someone else, teachers were able to concentrate on the discussion about and implementation of the new material, rather than on searching to find relevant materials. After teachers implemented a technique in their classrooms, they went back to the discussion board, still facilitated by an administrator, and shared what worked and what did not.
Who’s Using It?
ASCD is a very broad organization that has been provided all types of PD for many years. With this background, PD in Focus has reached various types of schools from public to private. PD in Focus can be purchased and assigned on the district and state level as well.
Most of these users are e in public or private K-12 school. But the system is used by some higher ed and educational support organizations. Currently, there are more than 10,000 users signed up for PD in Focus. The tool is used by schools in the NYC Public School District, The Killeen Independent School District, among others.
Content, Content, Content….
There are over 20 channels of content with over 1,000 categorized videos on the PD in Focus site. Content ranges from curriculum specific topics like teaching the Common Core, differentiating instruction, and teaching English language learners, to broader school issues like culture and enhancing professional practice.
All content is decided on and created by the ASCD content team in collaboration with ASCD experts. These experts come from a variety of affiliations and work with ASCD to develop relevant and useful content for teachers. Generally the experts have had some prior association with ASCD. The content team will also occasionally reach out to a new expert based on his or her research and influence in the field.
in Focus has an entire channel dedicated to the Common Core State Standards.
Resources on this channel include how to approach literacy and math in the
classroom using new tools and guidelines. Videos provide discussions of the
Common Core, and best practices of using these standards in the classroom.
Other channels include best teaching practices and methodologies. Videos include how to ensure all students are able to reach their goals, how to best outline a curriculum, and ways to use formative assessment to enhance learning in the classroom.
The ASCD Master Class, which is a channel available on the PD in Focus site, is a five-part video series hosted by Claudio Sanchez, an education correspondent for NPR. The Master Class is a discussion among guest experts that look at difficult and thought-provoking issues in education.
Training, Integrating, and Implementing
For new accounts, the ASCD WebHelp team works with each client to set up the system specifically for its needs. WebHelp works with clients to enroll users and assists them at the start of the implementation.
Enrollment as an individual is simply a sign-up form with standard questions such as name, address, and desired username. For districts, WebHelp will import all teachers and administrators into the system, provide them with usernames and passwords, and link the accounts to each other. Afterward, WebHelp is available to assist with any troubleshooting or questions. Both the implementation work and the ongoing support are part of the standard pricing.
The website and ASCD videos exist only on the site and cannot be exported. ASCD will integrate some of its videos into larger school systems, such as those built by Truenorthlogic.
PD in Focus is expensive and should be purchased at the school or district level.
PD in Focus is web-based and can be accessed through the ASCD site or at http://pdinfocus.ascd.org/. The site is optimized for all browser-accessing tools including desktops, laptops, tablets, and cell phones.
A one-year PD in Focus site license for a large school or small district is $1695. Bulk discounts are available for districts and states.
Competition:The Teaching Channel offers hundreds of online videos, similar to those of PD in Focus. PD in Focus distinguishes itself by allowing administrators to push out specific content to specific groups of teachers with the option of creating customized reflection questions.
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