Back in November of this school year, we decided to bridge the 29 000 square km of our rural school district with some virtual PD in the form of a first-ever PRSD8 FlipGrid Book Study. Midway through the study as we paused for Christmas break, we were experiencing some great successes and some sure signs of disconnect.
Despite initial excitement, in many ways, this experiment in virtual Professional Development was somewhat disappointing if you consider some of the statistics:
- by the end of the study right before our February break, only two of the original 16 participants had completed almost all of the suggested posts
- about a quarter of the group did not get past Chapter 1
- by the time we broke for Christmas, less than 40% of participants were still responding.
However, our feedback suggests that it is feasible to try again:
- We had 13% completion, but whenever I watch a Seth Godin interview, he often mentions that only 5-10 % of people actually complete online courses. So, I guess that we should see our 13% completion as positive!
- Over 85% would try a FlipGrid book study again or recommend it to a colleague
- 90% found the FlipGrid format easy to use and also appreciated not having to drive
- 70% enjoyed “talking” their responses instead of having to write them
But when we match the reality of the completion data with the post-survey feedback, it is obvious that we do need to make some changes. Here are some of the most commonly repeated suggestions from participants:
- We should start with an “in person” get together to help everyone feel more comfortable with each other
- YES to some sort of regular email or Remind reminder just before responses are due
- We should remind members who do not like to see themselves on video that they can just put a picture of their cat, dog, pile of marking etc. in front of the camera, thus just providing us with audio
- We should post our chapter discussion prompts further in advance
Since these are all do-able suggestions, perhaps we will try again!
It’s a fascinating thing, this district-wide teacher Flipgrid Book study. My instructional coach counter-part, Cathy, and I are leading two different book studies with parallel methodologies, dates, etc…
This is Disciplinary Literacy
Learning that Lasts
The statistics to date:
- We are at the halfway mark this week, focusing on the third of six chapters.
- Between the two studies, there have been over 100 videos posted
- The 100 videos have been viewed over 1000 times.
In past book studies that I’ve chaperoned, I’ve learned that, by the end, there will be some members who fall by the wayside – some who are just too busy, and others who just aren’t digging the book enough to contribute regularly.
This virtual experience is interesting in that the ‘wayside’ seems to have come more quickly! On one hand, we have several educators who are totally invested – they are meeting the suggested deadlines and adding rich video reflections to the posts of their colleagues. When I’ve seen them in person, they make a point of telling me how much they are enjoying this virtual book study experience. On the other end of the spectrum, we have some educators who have contributed only one out of four initial response videos required to date, and maybe one or two of the eight responses to colleagues that should have taken place by now.
Cathy and I are struggling to determine what constitutes an appropriate number of “reminders”. As teachers signed up, we assured them that they could go at their own pace if necessary, and if they missed some weeks, they could just jump back in and continue. This flexible method has certainly been the pattern for a few teachers, but there still are those others who haven’t seemed to get off the ground. So, what are some of the possible reasons?
- it was report card season these past few weeks for elementary and junior high teachers, and those tend to be the ones who we’ve heard from less often – do we chalk this up to poor timing?
- should we be sending a reminder every time that we approach a deadline? Our initial plan was to present a detailed schedule at startup so teachers could keep track of their own dates – is that too much to ask a busy teacher? do they just need a quick email or text to bump them into action?
- is our timeline too tight? We’ve allowed two weeks to read each chapter. Before the next chapter deadline approaches, we’ve hoped that teachers have listened to and responded to the musings of their book study colleagues – are we asking too much in too short of a time frame?
- after mid-December, we have a full month off for Christmas – will some teachers use this time to catch up and post a few responses that they’ve missed? or will that extra time just push the whole book study idea further from mind?
- does this virtual landscape offer too little accountability? is it just too easy to “not do” if you don’t have to walk past someone in the hall the next day and explain why you haven’t ‘done your homework’?
Stay tuned for more musings as this experiment progresses! If you have theories, please comment!