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Teacher Needs
SimpleK12

SimpleK12

by SimpleK12

GRADES / Middle School (Grades 5-8), High School (Grades 9-12)
PLATFORMS / Web Browser
http://simplek12.com

Technology professional development for teachers and students with webinars and courses

Overview

SimpleK12is an online professional development tool that incorporates teacher learninginto a social platform, and promotes engagement by letting teachers accumulatepoints that they can trade in for rewards. The company also sells its own“toolkits,” for say, dealing with student or handling paperwork.  . It allows teachers to create a profile,track their PD through a transcript of courses and outcomes, and access a broadrange of content.

Teacherscan communicate with one another through forums, upload resources to share withothers and gain points as they participate in the community. They can redeemthose points on the site for merchandise, memberships or content. The contentis delivered through webinars, which cover a range of subjects fromorganizational skills to the Common Core.

  • Purpose: Engage, Learn
  • Primary Users: Teachers, Districts (300,000 individual teachers, 120,000 through districts)
  • Cost: $357 per teacher per year (SimpleK12 runs membership sales through their newsletter), Teachers can create a profile and access some content (a handful of webinars and resources) for free without a license, Site licenses for districts and schools vary based on size
  • Seeking Improvement: Pedagogy skills and Content knowledge
  • On-Brand Use: Watch webinars for professional development credit and participate in a professional learning community.
  • Platforms: web-based
  • Deal breakers: Teachers who cannot afford the membership fees
  • Types of SchoolsUsing It: Statewide, to largetop 500 school districts, to tiny private school

Product Brief

Value Added

Thereward system of SimpleK12 provides motivation to maintain and continue toaccess and participate in professional development. A “leaderboard” is postedon the site to show whom the most active teachers are, and is based onexperience points, “bunny bucks,” webinars attended, resources shared, andposts.

Teacherscan also manage their own participation through an exportable transcript, whichprovides data on things like training time, credit hours, webinars completed,and learning programs completed.

How does it work?

Whetherteachers choose to access the site through a paid membership, or browse forfree, they are encouraged to sign up and create a profile. The SimpleK12personal profile includes basic information about yourself as a teacher, andhas sections for personal conversations, public messaging, and collaborativelearning with PD and the available tools such as plans created by teachers.Teachers can also access their transcript through the profile, which providesan overview and detailed summary of their completed professional development todate.


SimpleK12 aims to motivate teachers throughearning “bunny bucks” (points), badges, and member rankings. The bunny bucksare earned when teachers participate in the community and can be redeemed for  merchandise or courses. Though all courses arefree with a membership, teachers who do not have a membership can earn bunnybucks to buy a course they are interested in taking. The badges are awardedwhen teachers excel at something like participating in discussion boards orsharing resources. Badges include, but are not limited to:

  • Dynamic Discusser
  • Reliable Resourcer
  • Resource Buff
  • Webinar Warrior
  • Active Attendee
  • Webinar Watcher
  • Chief Collaborator
  • Constructive Critic

Thesebadges correlate to the type of participation that teachers are engaging in,and can help lead to higher rankings. The rankings are novice member, bronzemember, silver member, gold member, platinum member, and the highest: bluemember. The more a teacher participates in the SimpleK12 community, the highertheir ranking will be. Rankings help identify teachers who are more experiencedwith and participate more in SimpleK12’s professional development, which can beuseful for teachers looking for help or advice.

Afterteachers create profiles they can access the content on the site. Teachers canbrowse through a full course catalog of webinars, with over 1000 titles and 30different categories, which are free for members and can be purchased or earnedby non-members. The content on the SimpleK12 site is delivered through 30-minutewebinars. The webinars are live training sessions, and recordings of thesesessions can be accessed at any point.

Webinars

Ifa teacher has set specific goals, they can tap into a category and watch asmany webinars as they feel will help them reach that goal. For example, if ateacher sets a goal of using more digital media in the classroom, the digitalmedia tab has dozens of relevant videos.

SimpleK12will suggest content based on your goal, but ultimately teachers areresponsible for creating a plan for themselves. They can discuss with otherteachers, search the site, and catalog relevant PD they want to participate in,in order to reach their goal. Teachers can also save webinars to watch at alater date.

Theselive training sessions usually consist of a Powerpoint presentation, althoughpresenters can jump onto websites, pull up software, or share anything on theircomputer that they deem relevant. There are about 500 training sessionsthroughout the year, with the summer months being the busiest. After a livetraining session, the recorded session can be accessed through the webinarcatalog.

Thebenefits to attending a live session include being able to interact with thepresenter, asking questions, and participating in a back channel, which is alive discussion with all participants. The back channel discussion is designedto have teachers work together through collaborative note taking, in which allparticipants can access each others’ notes. Live webinar attendees can alsoshare best practices and resources through this discussion. The webinar endswith a Q&A session, in which all attendees are invited to ask the presenterquestions.

Resources

Theshared resources section includes “premium” resources from SimpleK12. These areebooks created by subject matter experts. There are also thousands of free usergenerated resources including lesson plans, tests and quizzes, activity sheets,rubrics, and Powerpoint presentations. All of these are searchable by subject,grade, and resource type.

SimpleK12also sells licenses to use toolkits for schools or districts to meet PD goals.The toolkit consists of 5-10 webinars on any given topic including things likenew teacher training, bullying, and introduction to learning on the iPad. Thetoolkits are general groups of webinars in a certain subject area that theSimpleK12 experts deemed important. These experts include both employees ofSimpleK12 and the presenters who are contractors who create webinars in theircontent area.


Theshared resources section of the SimpleK12 has thousands of resources created byboth SimpleK12 and the community. The premium resources are those created bySimpleK12, and are in the form of ebooks, and range from lesson plans, toteacher jokes, to trivia games, to creating a blog in the classroom. Theresource section also has lesson plans, Powerpoints, presentations, and otherclassroom resources created by community members. Teachers can browse bysubject, grade, or resource type. Each resource is ranked by other communitymembers, who give it between 1 and 5 bunny slippers.

Resourcescreated by other teachers can include anything that they use in any classroom.Teachers can upload lesson plans, worksheets, quizzes, games, images, Powerpoints,and more. The resources that teachers upload are free for all members andnon-members. These resources are also ranked by other community members, andteachers can choose to contact the person who created and shared the resourceto find out more information.


There are also hundreds of discussions on forumsthat SimpleK12’s 400,000 community members can participate in. Members can askquestions or reach out for help from other teachers. One forum, school issues,has topics like “Facebook”, “suggestions for online vocabulary’, and “BYODpolicies”. Community members can start a topic or find a relevant topic andshare their thoughts or advice.

TheAvailable Forums Include:

  • Introductions (1380 posts, 160 topics)
  • Share Your Story - SimpleK12 Member Stories (121 posts, 8 topics)
  • Connecting on Blogs and Social Networks (680 posts, 141 topics)
  • Additional Opportunities to Get Involved (5 posts, 5 topics)
  • Lesson Planning (521 posts, 48 topics)
  • Professional Development (658 posts, 76 topics)
  • Technology Integration (997 posts, 150 topics)
  • School Issues (379 posts, 43 topics)
  • Special Education (147 posts, 21 topics)
  • Common Core (244 posts, 35 topics)
  • iPads & Mobile Learning (616 posts, 76 topics)

How is it used?

Teacherscan sign up for SimpleK12 as individuals or a school/district can sign them up.In addition to the tradition PD webinars that teachers can watch for credithours, teachers can utilize the community and social aspects. For example, ateacher in a rural area may be the only Spanish teacher in her school ordistrict, so she can use SimpleK12 to reach out to other Spanish teachers forguidance. Another example, a fifth grade teacher from a school in New York canreach out to a fifth grade teacher from a school in Australia to do across-cultural joint online unit.

Schoolsor districts can sign up all teachers for SimpleK12, and use the site toimplement training initiatives. SimpleK12 sets up a goal study analysis andgoal plan for each larger client to help them reach their target for training.For example, districts can set a goal for improving their differentiatedinstruction or technology integration, and SimpleK12 will source materials fromthe site that can be assigned to teachers. 

SimpleK12will help create assignments for teachers, provide toolkits of 5-10 webinars ina certain subject area, and help schools customize the training. Schools canupload their own webinars, Powerpoints, or PDFs to assign to teachers, and canadd assignments and content throughout the year.

Additionally,districts can set up private discussion boards to facilitate conversationbetween teachers. These discussion boards can only be accessed by the setnumber of teachers, whether they are a group of teachers within the district orall teachers, and can be monitored by a chosen facilitator. Teachers can starttheir own discussion board within a school district, but cannot create aprivate discussion board for a small subgroup of teachers within the districtwithout administrative access.

Administratorsthat are granted administrative access are able to access individual or groupreports from their teachers if teachers are signed up through the districtlicense. A superintendent may be able to see progress from all teachers in adistrict, and a principal can be assigned to access just the information fromtheir school. If teachers join as individuals, they have to share their ownprogress with administrators.

Who’s Using It?

SimpleK12currently has a community of over 400,000 members from around the world. Thoughmembers are mostly teachers, there are also administrators, librarians,technology directors, and others who work with or around education.

Asof Fall 2013 120,000 teachers have joined through a school or district license,and approximately 300,000 teachers joined individually. There are over 450districts and schools with site licenses.

Districtsinclude the Berkeley County School District, WV, Tangipahoa Parish SchoolBoard, LA, Clear Creek Independent School District, TX, Catoosa County SchoolDistrict, GA, and Livingston Parish School Board, LA. The company has alsopartnered with the State of Michigan to provide all teachers with access to theplatform through Michigan LearnPort, available through Michigan VirtualUniversity.

Thereis site licensing available, which provides access for all teachers under onesystem. Additionally, SimpleK12 works with these site licensees to help createa unique and relevant PD experience.

Content, Content, Content….

Thecontent on the site is delivered through 30-minute webinars, and aims to befocused on practical knowledge that teachers can feasibly implement thefollowing day in the classroom. Content is chosen in collaboration betweenSimpleK12’s content team and the expert presenters based on feedback from thecommunity and relevant topics.

Thecatalog of webinars cover a vast range of teacher and administrator needsincluding things like differentiated instruction, school safety, blogging,blended learning, and Common Core. Each webinar is delivered by a SimpleK12presenter, who are experts in their content area through either research,teaching, conference presenting, or publishing, each hired by the SimpleK12content team, and lead multiple webinars a year.

Training, Integrating, and Implementing

Training

Thereis no training involved when becoming a member of SimpleK12. However, anemployee from SimpleK12 will help larger sites set up goals, assignments, andmemberships as needed.

Integrating

Schoolsand Districts can assign individuals or groups of teachers webinars on theSimpleK12 site. Administrators can also access individual or group progressbased on assignments. SimpleK12 does not have an open API but they offerlicensing of their content to run in other LMS platforms.

Assessment and Data

SimpleK12allows each teacher to track their progress through a transcript. Thetranscript includes training time, credit hours, webinars completed, andlearning programs completed. Each item can be looked at individually, andcertificates for each course or credit can be accessed and printed. Teacherscan also save the transcripts as PDFS, print pages by date, and turn it into aprincipal or supervisor for credit.

ExampleTranscript:


Landmines

Thecost can be prohibitive for some teachers, though a handful of courses and allof the teacher-shared resources are free for anyone with a profile.

Tech/Price/Credit

Tech

SimpleK12is web based.

Cost

Ayear long individual license for SimpleK12 is $357, which gives you access toeverything, although they often run discount specials through their newsletter,which can be joined from their site. Additionally, teachers can set up aprofile, browse the course catalog, and access shared resources and a fewselect webinars for free.

Districtand school license costs vary based on the amount of people that are going tobe participating and the training needs of that school. If districts need moreassistance creating a plan with Simple K12, the license will cost slightlymore, though the price is still heavily discounted from the $357 individuallicense.

Credit

Teacherscan get CEU’s by watching the webinars on the SimpleK12 site. One hour equalsone CEU credit hour, so watching two webinars will provide one CEU credit.

Competition:

SimpleK12 is unique in thatit combines a professional learning community with for-credit professionaldevelopment. There are other PD offerings that provide similar content andwebinars, and even communities including edWeb. However, the gamification ofthe learning and the extensive transcript tracking makes SimpleK12 unique.

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PRODUCT ATTRIBUTES

Audience

For Teachers For Teachers

Characteristics

Academic Content Academic Content

Anytime Anywhere Anytime Anywhere

Asynchronous Modules Asynchronous Modules

Content Repository Content Repository

Instructional Skills Instructional Skills

Online Course Online Course

Pedagogies Pedagogies

Professional Development Professional Development

Scheduled Scheduled

Social Network Social Network

Teacher Choice Teacher Choice

Webinars Webinars

Subject Matter

21st Century Skills 21st Century Skills

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