As Kelly, Ryan, and I are implementing and developing our learning ePortfolio initiative at Owen J. Roberts High School, we continue to visit and revisit every step of the way. For example, our original plan basically just had to do with classrooms adopting ePortfolios. However, we realized we needed to have a real training program for our colleagues to jump on board. So, we created our professional learning plan and in addition created three Schoology courses (1-3, 4-6, 7-9). We did this because we have realized something very important that has significantly changed our implementation plan: all those participating must understand and agree on shared goals and a shared vision. We decided to adjust our plan and proposal appropriately so that it now includes all teachers implementing learning ePortfolios in their classrooms instead of running an ePortfolio course in which only a few teachers would participate.
Despite this major adjustment, much of our plan is still applicable. The promotional video we created will still help teachers and administration see the purpose behind our plan. Our first literature review then provides our audience with current technology trends and how they support ePortfolio use, while the 4DX Strategy Plan will help us jump-start the initiative and follow the newly updated ePortfolio Timeline.
We made some major timeline (below) changes to how we plan to properly train teachers based on a more effective kind of professional learning we were introduced to recently. This will help us not only prepare teachers to use ePortfolios with their students, but also provide them with opportunities to collaborate and build off of one another’s successes and struggles. Using this concept, we mapped out professional learning sessions that will help to train lead teachers in each department so the plan can confidently move forward to full implementation.These professional learning sessions will be accessed during their Schoology PD sessions.
Most recently, with the use of various resources documenting case studies from across the world, we created a presentation that highlights what worked, what did not work, and how that information applies to our initiative. We also compiled that information with additional sources to create our second literature review, which delves deeper into the reasoning behind the new initiative and implementation plan we have chosen. Both of these newly developed assets strengthen our purpose and the importance of including learning ePortfolios at Owen J. Roberts High School. The adjustments were made based on what we have recently learned, which has helped us develop the following areas of focus for future goals:
- Clear vision and support from stakeholders for the ePortfolio initiative
- Blended learning and redesigned learning spaces
- Student skills in using multiple devices in and out of school
- Strong IT infrastructure and support
- Adequate resources for ALL students
- Proper teacher training and pedagogical shifts
- Continual support from new research
All of this information has helped us redesign our original plan so that it is justified and will lead to more success for teachers and students. Our ultimate goal of empowering students to become life-long, independent learners remains intact, and our chances of achieving that goal are that much better with these new developments.
As I reflect on this entire process, I can see how much I have learned and how far we have come. We have a real plan in place that we hope to start during in -service of this coming school year. What we didn’t expect was how much time it really takes to get a program off and running. Administration isn’t always on board with change, but we have come to learn that as long as it doesn’t cost money, and if you have research to back it up, they (our administration is pretty flexible!) will most likely support you. I learned that the first plan is not always the plan you end up with, as shown in our need to add in a series of professional learning opportunities so that our colleagues could be successful with ePortfolios. I also learned that asking people for help or for their time is a very difficult task. Teachers are not always willing or able to start offering up their afternoons to be beta projects for your innovation plan, so we decided that using a time they had to be there anyway (dictated PD time through our contract) was the best way to get everyone’s attention. Finally, I learned that no one will want to “buy in” to our idea without a strong pitch and clear, communicated research as to “WHY” we want to change our school’s system of learning.
By far, the most difficult obstacle is the whirlwind. It is so difficult to promote change (and change is an understatement– it really is more like a revolution) when you have so many other things going on. Grading papers, answering parent emails, planning lessons, attending current PD sessions, dealing with classroom management, scheduling courses and teaching schedules for next year ALL impact my ability to stay focused on my goals. However, the DLL program has given me the tools and the skills necessary to continue to move forward and keep our plan in action and making progress.