High-Quality Professional Development, PDQ.
By Morgan Appel, director of UC San Diego Extension's Education Department
In the tumultuous and rapid-fire world of P-12 education, even the most ardent and skilled postsecondary institutions cannot expect to provide all things for all teachers. The sheer size and scope of the endeavor is awesome and in times of resource scarcity, finding the just-in-time expertise for the purposes of practical professional development can prove daunting for the most vigorous organizations.
However, classroom technologies that seem to transform daily and the advent of new approaches to teaching and learning—such as the Common Core—drive the need for cutting-edge and contextually sensitive support. Practitioners are hungry for user-friendly strategies and innovative tools to address increased class sizes and burgeoning diversity of abilities and interest among pupils. This is as true in Los Angeles, California as it is in Fargo, North Dakota. Teachers also need these types of compacted trainings to advance in a specific assignment; the workplace generally; and on the salary scale, perhaps most importantly. As Kevin Bacon suggested in his role as Captain Jack Ross in 1992’s A Few Good Men—‘these are the facts—and they are undisputed.’
As a provider of teacher education at a university with a public service mission, we are compelled to address this issue directly. But what to do when one’s stock and trade lies in credential programs and multi-course certification? Perhaps the organizational theorists said it best—paraphrasing here—the best approach to readiness for environmental changes lies in partnering with others with similar objectives yet divergent offerings. This is the idea of mutually beneficial and reciprocal exchange through meaningful joint venture. This was the impetus for the partnership between the Education Department and the Professional Development Institute [PDI] (http://webteaching.com).
For the past year, the Education Department at Extension has had the great fortune to work collaboratively with PDI, an organization that has offered flexible high-caliber online trainings for nearly two decades. Connie Ryan, the President of PDI, brings to bear an entrepreneurial spirit that is only outshined by the intellectual and practical applications to be found in literally hundreds of unique courses designed for and by active professionals. These courses are taken by practitioners across the globe with measured impact and acclaim. For those teachers seeking credit for this work, UC San Diego Extension offers transcripted post-baccalaureate units. All PDI instructors and courses are vetted and approved by the Education Department and its academic sponsor on campus—the Education Studies Department.
Ryan’s small but intrepid staff interacts with hundreds of teachers on a daily basis and maintains a commitment to service not unlike our own. We are all well aware that the ultimate end client is not the classroom teacher, but the pupils in her classroom. Both PDI and Extension are cognizant of the internal and exogenous challenges teachers face on a daily basis and seek to offer courses that fan the flames of creativity, engagement and commitment. In concert, we work to ensure that teachers are ready for what comes next and that they receive credit where it is due (so to speak)—in an affordable way.
There is great power to be had in partnership—be it in the form of human or social capital. As the Extension/PDI collaboration offers thus far, the power of partnership is not measured by what we possess together, but instead what we can offer others as a team.
For more information about the Extension/PDI partnership and related upcoming projects, please contact Morgan Appel at email@example.com. We encourage you to survey PDI’s latest offerings at http://webteaching.com.