The Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) programme has been refreshed and updated. Its courses and recognition provide measurable PD for teachers and helps them become more confident in their use of digital technology, explains Sam McNeill.
One of the challenges that many educational institutions face is setting measurable professional development goals in e-learning. Many have opted for using various inquiry models, whereby teachers actively inquire into their own practice and how newly acquired research or knowledge can be integrated into their classroom teaching.
This is well and good, however, often there’s a core base level competency that’s required before teachers can use some digital technologies.
Some schools have attempted to develop their own digital literacy passports for students and staff to increase the minimum knowledge of various technologies used by the school. While this can be effective, I see it as a time-consuming approach for schools. And this is where the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) programme can help, especially for Office365 schools.
MIE courses show staff how to use the staple tools of O365, such as OneNote, Sway and Skype, as well as provide real-world contexts on scenarios that would be useful and effective. The dual nature of this approach means that teachers can be released to be self starters in their own PD tools, while leaders can track the progress and development of the staff through their completion of the numerous courses available.
An example of the practical nature of some of these courses that is likely to appeal to teachers is one called ‘Increasing Instructional Time, Decreasing Administrative Tasks’. I’ve completed this course and I like the fact that it shows how to use the technology and when this would benefit the teacher through:
- Excel Surveys: Using these to collect data and information from parents on students in the classroom;
- Sway: Embedding student content stored in OneDrive into the Sway to promote an event or celebrate learning in the classroom; and
- OneNote: Showing how to save an email from a parent directly into a OneNote section where all parent communications are stored.
Most teachers are keen to learn ways to become more efficient and utilise technology to assist in this process. Again, the benefit of these is that they are truly a guided learning pathway that mixes interactive and passive teaching techniques:
- Watch the facilitated presentation.
- Follow along in the click-through tutorial for further instruction.
- Click on all hyperlinks to get credit for completing the task.
- Complete the assessment at the end.
Once a teacher has gone through the instructional process they sit a multi-choice quiz, which they must score over 80 per cent in to be credited with the points from the course.
Whilst the goal is the overall improvement in e-learning skills, having the ability to see if they have passed the test at the end of the assessment is an added benefit for schools. It allows them to set goals for their staff, like “over the next 18 months we aim to have 75 per cent of our staff recognised as Microsoft Innovative Educators”. To achieve this, a staff member must gain 1,000 points from completing the quizzes for several programmes. Depending on the starting competency of the teacher, the courses they choose to complete, as well as how thorough they are watching the content, this would usually take around 8-10 hours to obtain 1000 points.
This sort of time frame, along with the competencies gained through completing the courses, makes this an incredibly useful and realistic tool for school leaders to consider using when assisting staff with setting e-learning-related goals for their appraisal:
The content is pre-built and ready to go;
- If the school already uses Offiec365, it is highly relevant and teaches the tools in real world contexts;
- It is measurable, both in terms of time spent and outcomes achieved and may even lead to some friendly competition between teachers; and
- It is scalable.
As someone that has led various forms of e-learning for teachers for nearly a decade, these points are exciting as it streamlines the delivery of content and accelerates the learning for teachers towards becoming more confident in their use of technology in (and out of) the classroom.
Formerly Director of ICT at St Andrew’s College in Christchurch, Sam McNeill works for Microsoft.
For more on the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) programme go to education.microsoft.com