Online Teacher PD

Title II funding has resulted in the allocation of more than three billion dollars to professional development (Darling-Hammond et al, 2009). More than 40 states have adopted standards calling for effective professional development. Yet, as a nation, we have failed to leverage these examples to ensure that every educator and every student benefits from highly effective professional learning.

PD in Learning

Blank & Alas (2009) reported that standards-based educational improvement requires teachers to have deep knowledge of their subject and the pedagogy that is most effective for teaching the subject. School districts spend the equivalent of $200/pupil on professional development (Killeen, Monk, & Plecki, 2002). Unfortunately, teachers often view professional development as ineffectual or a waste of their time. Many programs offer “fragmented, intellectually superficial” seminars (Borko, 2004, p 3). Worse, these PDs do not provide ongoing support for implementing new strategies or tools (Barnett, 2002). This makes it difficult for teachers to implement new practices in environments resistant to change.

Dede et al (2005) reviewed 400 articles about online, face-to-face, and hybrid teacher PD programs and found 40 that represented high-quality empirical research. They developed five areas for examining best practices (a) Design, (b) Effectiveness, (c) Technology, (d) Communication, and (e) Methods. These focus areas may provide a framework for evaluating MOOCs as Blended/Online Teacher Professional Development assets.


If you are in Las Vegas, Nevada, please join me at the 2015 SITE Conference at the Rio Hotel. I will be discussing the benefits of leveraging and scaling MOOCs as teacher professional development assets at a research panel on Professional Development and Teacher Preparation for K-12 Online and Blended Settings on Thursday, March 5th, from 4:15-5:15 pm, in room #11.

Also joining me will be:

• Keryn Pratt, University of Otago, New Zealand
• Susan Poyo, Franciscan University of Steubenville, United States
• Kathy McVey, Franciscan University of Steubenville, United States
• Mary Lucille Smith, Franciscan University of Steubenville, United States
• Margie Johnson, University of Phoenix, United States
See you in Vegas, baby…

#MOOC Who are my students?


To date over 200 students have signed up for our MOOC. The numbers are increasing at a rate of 10-20 students per day. This would give us an audience of 1,500 students by the time the course launches, however, additional promotion from the course instructors and the Canvas Network may increase course enrollment by thousands more. Who are these students? How should we prepare to teach them?

According to Swope (2013) MOOC student enrollment has risen from 1 million in 2012 to over 10 million in 2013, however, reports in the media have largely concentrated on MOOC completion rates, which have been as low as 5-10%. Do low completion rates signal a death knell for the MOOC as an educational innovation? Regardless, we intend to proceed and offer our class to thousands of teachers who want to improve teacher and student relationships. Toward that end, we will offer a review of modern learning and education psychology theories, then give teachers an opportunity to practice with three relationship-building curricula within a caring, online community.

Chernova (2013) reported on a Canvas Network study of MOOC students who were characterized as older students, with advanced degrees, participating because they are curious about the subject matter, and motivated by the courses’ being free of charge. This survey of 1,800 students defined highly-engaged students, as “those who completed several MOOCs”. Of these MOOCers, 55% had a master’s degree or higher. Age-wise, 74% of the highly engaged students were 24-53 years old. Also, 63% were female.

In the fall of 2013, UW‐Madison offered four MOOCs on Coursera. Huhn (2013) reported the average age of participants was 34 with twenty‐eight percent (28%) under age 26. Almost three-quarters (74%) of the participants had a bachelors degree or higher. Only 9% had a high school education or less. Approximately half were employed full time and sixteen percent were part-time workers. Thirteen percent (13%) were unemployed (not working but looking for work), 16% were not working by choice (retired, staying home with young children, on leave from work, or unemployed and not looking for work). Only one quarter (23%) were from the United States. An additional quarter were from Brazil, India, United Kingdom, Spain, or Canada. Overall, 19 different countries had 100 or more participants. There was at least one participant from each state. In the US, three states (California, New York, and Texas) each had 100 or more participants.

Jeffrey Pomerantz has blogged extensively about his Medadata students. In total, 27,623 students were active after week one. Of that number, 1,418 earned Certificates of Accomplishment. Incidentally, this is roughly the same number of students that he has taught over his entire career. Using those figures, Dr. Pomerantz would have the same 95% non-completion rates as most MOOCs, however, he proposes defining of the total number of students who completed the Unit 1 homework assignment (2,938) as “active students”, because they have demonstrated an intent to complete the course. Since
1,418 of these students completed the course; his MOOC completion rate should be calculated as 48%. Clearly new thinking is needed when it comes to evaluating the educational outcomes of MOOCs. I’m just excited to teach one.


Chernova, Y. (2013). Accessed on June 25, 2014 at

Huhn, C. (2013). UW‐Madison massive open online courses (MOOCs): Preliminary participant demographics. Academic Planning and Institutional Research, Office of the Provost, August 15, 2013. Accessed on June 27, 2014 at

Pomerantz, J. (2013). Data about the Medadata MOOC. Accessed on June 27, 2014 at

Swope, J. (2013). Accessed on June 26, 2014 at


Phoning Parents Part 2

Hello Everyone. I am, Dr. Scott Petri, your instructor for Improving Teacher and Student Relationships. Welcome to the second lecture on improving teacher and parent communication. Thank you to the great people at Match Education for this great book Phoning Parents by Michael Goldstein. It’s cheaper than a Venti at Starbucks. Go get it.

This video will explain the six types of phone calls the book advocates making. If you read the study by Matt Kraft on the website, you know making proactive calls to parents created stronger teacher-student relationships, improved parental involvement, and increased student motivation.

The book recommends making this systemic behavior, investing 30 minutes a day in making parent phone calls. These calls should be no longer than 5 minutes each, which means you can make 6 calls per day, 36 calls a week. If you have 180 students, it will take 5 weeks to call every parent.

The six reasons for making these phone calls are: Shows courtesy and respect to both student and parent; You know parent got the message because you hear them saying uh-huh and what? Phone call communication is 1 to 1; Provide parents with more detailed information about their child’s progress and behavior than progress reports or dailies; Teacher can provide specific advice to the parent; and Increases student interest and investment in learning.

The Praise Call
Teacher describes a positive choice or goal met by the child
Breaks the negative cycle for struggling students
Praise must be specific and detailed
Focus on effort, choices, and accomplishments

The Correction Call
Describes something the student needs to improve
Helps student and parent understand what improvement looks like
Discuss and decide next steps for beginning the process of improvement

The Check In Call
See how student is doing with classwork and homework
Speak to student before parent
You didn’t finish your work in class today, what was the problem?
Recap purpose of call with parent

Text Messaging
Can be praise or reminders
Don’t use texting for corrections or concerns – call instead
Be careful not to automate, or you risk losing the personal bond in the relationship
Services like, or Remind 101 can help personalize batch messages.

Texting is the most popular form of communicating for teenagers. 87% of high school seniors text every day, whereas only 61% of them use Facebook daily. This may not be the medium of choice for parents, so ask what they prefer.

The Summit
An emergency in-person meeting with student and parent present
Create a plan to help student
Be warm, but unapologetic about your high expectations
Make parent your partner

I hope you will consider investing some time in making proactive phone calls to increase your students’ engagement this year. Be sure to check out the additional resources and supplementary videos I’ve put on the blog under the tag phoning parents.