Professional Development Anytime, Anywhere

Texas STARgate's Online Professional Development for Texas Teachers

Teachers can now engage in anytime, anywhere technology-related professional development with Texas STARgate, an online professional development portal that delivers a variety of courses, resources, and tools for teachers in several different ways. Texas teachers can access technology-related professional development whenever they wish from the comfort of their own homes or in more structured learning environments. The Texas Center for Educational Technology at the University of North Texas, in collaboration with Classroom Connect, developed STARgate to give Texas teachers the opportunity to learn more about the Technology Applications TEKS and how to use technology effectively in the classroom.

Through participation in STARgate's robust collegial collaboration environment, educators pursue technology-related professional development through several paths, including project-based software tutorials, technology-related resources, self-paced curriculum, and coursework facilitated by online guides. Some guide-led courses also blend face-to-face and online elements, creating an effective hybrid method for course delivery.

All STARgate courses focus on classroom-based projects where participants work on assignments they can apply to their classrooms. In many cases, the products produced (ranging from a teaching episode on project-based learning to a scavenger hunt on the uses of technology in society to a classroom technology management plan) can be used immediately in the classroom.

One guide-led course series in STARgate (the "Teacher As. . ." series) is aligned with the SBEC Technology Applications Standards for all Beginning Teachers. The 5-STAR Certificate, awarded by the University of North Texas, is available for teachers who successfully complete this series of courses. 5-STAR stands for the five standards Supporting Technology Applications Readiness. A portfolio of products created in the six courses is evaluated to help determine those eligible for the 5-STAR Certificate.

Background

The vision of the collaborative is to serve Texas teachers by creating a single location housing resources, ways to obtain Technology Applications credentials, and technology-related professional development. The members of the STARgate collaborative are the University of North Texas, the Texas Center for Educational Technology, Classroom Connect, Ector County ISD, and London ISD. The two school districts provide input on the development and testing of the site from the perspective of both a large, urban district and a small, rural district. The Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund, through the Discovery 5 grant program, provided partial funding for this project.

Classroom Connect provided the professional development Web site engine, selected professional development coursework, and initial online Guide training. TCET designed and developed the six-course "Teacher As…" series especially for STARgate. These courses are supported by extensive instructional resources and teaching material. TCET manages the project and trains additional Guides to facilitate face-to-face and online activities. The two collaborating school districts pilot the portal and make valuable contributions to the project through the participation of their technology coordinators and teachers.

Conclusion

Texas STARgate is at the forefront of a new wave of professional development. Just as college-level and secondary coursework is offered online, professional development can be offered over the Internet effectively and inexpensively. Texas teachers have the opportunity to complete coursework for professional development credit when it is convenient for them.

Texas STARgate Courses

Self-paced course titles:

  • 21st Century Library/Media Center
  • Getting Started with HTML
  • Selecting K-12 Software
  • The Constructivist Classroom
  • Troubleshooting School Technology

Guide-led course titles:

  • PowerPoint in the Classroom
  • TIF 101: Policy and Leadership with Technology
  • TIF 102: Foundations for Teaching, Learning, and the Curriculum
  • TIF 103: Measuring What Counts
  • TIF 104: Productivity and Professional Practice

Guide-led hybrid course titles:

  • Teacher As Citizen: Surviving in the World of Technology
  • Teacher As Researcher: Basic Search Skills and Web Evaluation
  • Teacher As Problem Solver: Problem-Based Learning
  • Teacher As Communicator: Communicating in the Classroom
  • Teacher As Conductor, Part 1: Planning Instruction to Integrate Technology
  • Teacher As Conductor, Part 2: Implementing Instruction using Technology

Certificate option:
Successful completion of the "Teacher As . . ." series can lead to the awarding of the 5-STAR Certificate from the University of North Texas.

Email: Martha Peet

Stargate information: http://txstargate.net.hosting.domaindirect.com

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