Phase 1: Teacher Engagement (April 2012)

The first phase of teacher identification will occur through established online education groups included within the Brokers of Expertise community system. Utilizing relationships with the Brokers of Expertise partner team, which represents California educators who are currently using Smithsonian Education resources specifically, we will look to access the active groups collaborating on the Brokers of Expertise site including California’s English Language Development (ELD) network, Beginning Teacher Support & Assessment (BTSA) system serving the state’s beginning teachers, California Charter School Network, and the Los Angeles USD Special Education and Special Needs Educator’s Consortium.

C&J will leverage existing coordination with the Brokers of Expertise team as identified above to further surface those 20 core-cohort educators already accessing and implementing Smithsonian digital learning assets which is actively monitored and tracked through paradata recovery on the Brokers portal. This will provide the advantage of longitudinal use patterns that exceed the given project timelines without increasing those timelines or costs and ensures a body of teacher participants that come with certain levels of pre-existing familiarity and experiences with Smithsonian digital resources.

This diversity of educators by grade level and subject area including those serving diverse student populations will be a cross-factor considered as well when selecting teachers based on their capacity to support the prototype development. To manage a successful selection process, we expect to solicit the 20 core-cohort teachers from California and will work with the project partners in California to also sample teachers in grade bands of K-3, 4-5, 6-8, & 9-12. Again, where necessary, we will draw from an additional group of 10 educators from partnering states to provide qualified teachers at each of these grade bands and some representative of Special Education and English Language Development. From this final teacher group we anticipate identifying 5 advanced candidates to participate in Phase 3 during the summer institute . The considerations for the selection of those 5 teachers attending the summer institutes will include experience and expertise in curriculum and instructional design, technology proficiency, experience teaching with technology-based resources, with particular attention paid to the level of detailed feedback and proposed feature/tool articulation during Phase 2 experiences, and specific experience executing the classroom application of Smithsonian digital learning assets prior to and as part of the more rigorous Phase 2 regimen elements.


PHASE 2 (May-June 2012)

Inquiry and Evaluation by Teachers

Phase 2 participating teachers will engage in a two-tier iterative cycle of inquiry, use and evaluation that will involve the educators (in grade-band and subject-area configurations) participating in a series of common use-regimens as coordinated in-person and via the online community group utilities supported by the Brokers of Expertise system and with assistance from those project partners.

Tier One Inquiry, Use and Evaluation Cycle

Once the teacher sample has been finalized and teachers have agreed to participate, they will be given an online survey to assess their current usage patterns and interests. Three or four school site based groups will be convened to orient them to the goals of the project, and establish the community of practitioners within which they will work over the ensuing 2 months. While gathered, teachers will be asked to review Smithsonian resources and annotatively assess the value of 3-5 items through three simple discovery protocols (topical search, subject directory browsing, standards metadata filter) through use of the native Smithsonian Education system and then through two other integrated systems, all with unique tool sets. Of those selected, we will ask teachers to highlight and document the instructional value of those resources both in relation to their daily instruction and as a means to teach specific Common Core Language Arts Anchor standards. They will then be asked to analyze methods they would use to promote their findings to their peers and their project colleagues. Teachers will take part in a focus group discussion at the end of their day to surface immediate reactions and opinions to the resources they chose to assess and their usefulness.

This design is intended to expose:
  • the degree of annotative mark-up teachers perform to describe the instructional value
  • the methods they prefer to provide kinematic input on a resource and share out
  • the types of pedagogical context they provide to help demonstrate how and where a resource is used in the instructional process

Tier Two Inquiry, Use and Evaluation Cycle

The second tier will be done independently and will call for each teacher to integrate 2 items from the Tier One query into a proposed teaching/learning structure for classroom implementation (activity guide, lesson plan, project description, etc.) with one or more of the approaches strategically selected by the teacher so it can be deployed in their own classrooms within the timeframe of this regimen period. All instructional plans developed by participating teachers will be posted and organized with the respective resource(s) that have been utilized for analysis as our primary pedagogical modeling. All teachers will complete an electronic post-survey and participate in online conversations about their experience at the conclusion of Tier Two. Teachers able to fully execute the second tier will enter a pool of candidates in which we will solicit for consideration as the 5 teachers we will recommend for Phase 3 activities in Washington DC.

A significant outcome of this will be the creation of a sample instructional framework in the form of an activity or lesson or learning sequence as identified above, produced by each participating teacher and posted for SCEMS staff and others to examine. This process will serve to focus the teachers’ attention on the practice of using Smithsonian digital resources in the context of identified standards, anticipated student outcomes and objectives, classroom activities and appropriate assessments in a virtual “fishbowl”. Through the process of creating an activity or lesson using a simple upload process, or documentation space located within the online collaborative group tool, or in some instances more adept prototyped curriculum development tools afforded to a small control group trained in its use, teachers will engage both tiers as described above to investigate resource elements and develop a structure around them using a process that makes sense to them based on ease of use and personal facility to document and share. Data will be collected throughout the development process by using online forum postings and phone/video interviews. Additionally, we anticipate using Bomgar point to point software to physically observe the search and discovery process of Tier One for all teacher subjects, and will ask that Tier Two processes are videotaped by the teacher participants for inclusion in our research where possible.

Tier 1 Inquiry and Evaluation Cycle Steps
  1. Pre-Survey of identified teachers
  2. Regional face-to-face introductory workshop
  3. Create online community space with other participants
  4. Identify 3-5 resources
  5. Evaluate resources
  6. Focus Group

Tier 2 Inquiry and Evaluation Cycle Steps
  1. Return to classroom
  2. Create an appropriate instructional material using one of the resources evaluated in Tier 1
  3. Evaluate results
  4. Share instructional material and results to online community space
  5. Online discussion
  6. Post-survey

Phase 3 – Summer Workshops for Testing the Prototypes (July-August 2012)

In the Phase 2 iterative evaluation and design cycle, we noted that teachers may be organized in either heterogeneous or homogenous groupings with some minor modifications applied to either. Given possibilities for types of teachers gathered from week to week during the first 2 weeks, there may be benefit to having a process that allows teachers to be structured into grade band-alike, subject-alike configured teams each of the weeks (grades K-3 / grades 4-5 / grades 6-8 / grades 9-12) to assess feedback and revisions specific to each group as unique or congruent with the other groups. If teacher teams are more heterogeneous, however, we can move from a cyclical, isolated process with each week’s teams operating independent of each other’s discoveries to a more cascading-oriented process in which each week’s team hands off a new set of prototypes to the next week’s team for further refinement and processing.

Regardless, the iterative design process from Phase 2 will remain intact, as each week will require teacher teams distilled into smaller groups of 2 -3 (based on alike grades/assignments), moving through a series of exercises as part of a more comprehensive daily regimen. The regimens will distinctly address a two-round iteration of introduce/use/reflect/analyze/synthesize/revise/re-introduce to the teacher teams. This cycle will be applied to the teachers ability to perform micro-tasks affiliated with smaller prototyped components as connected to discovery, annotation, enumerative analysis, and promotion in days 1-2, then pedagogical development and publishing in days 3-4, then a final round of generative use/reflect/analyze the 5th and final day of the combined, comprehensive prototypes.

Each week will ensure 3 full iterations of a development and deployment methodology combining the accelerated delivery of Agile software development, with the prototyping and revision methods of the Spiral model. In its core essence, educators will be shown a prototype and given a set of tasks, with the entire project team observing how they interact with the prototype to complete the task. After a short amount of time interacting with the various micro-prototype, teachers will be given time and space to document their own findings as individuals and a small group of 2-3. This information will pass along to the full project team to review, synthesize, and resolve in terms of user experience and success with desired objectives. The development team will then work on rapidly integrating these new ideas into the prototype, with clear programming and design tasks to be accomplished within 24 hours for re-delivery to the teacher teams the next morning.

The second week will be conducted in the same way as the first week however, the micro-activities and proto-types will have been re-informed by the first week’s processes. At the conclusion of the second week, the team will look to analyze differences in feedback, use-trends, and modifications if and where any exist based on grade level differences and relative teaching assignments. This will allow for divergent prototype features to be made available to week 3 teacher teams for the final week of testing and for the possibility that a single ubiquitous solution be applied to diversify a common set of grade and subject agnostic prototypes. Bringing in a small cohort of 5 Phase 2 teachers will assist with this 3rd week of final modifications and specifications.

The final week will also follow the same structure as above, but will focus on a fusion of development with the prototypes from the working analysis and development from the preceding two weeks. Additionally, in the third week we will plan to include five key teachers selected from the earlier Phase 2 core-cohort team who emerged as specially skilled, to get their added perspective on the same type of testing administered in the summer institute. They will join us for the final three days to work more intensively on the prototypes and provide the added perspective of practitioners who are now stepping into the use and analysis process as a jump from iteration 1 to iteration 4 of each prototype. Their work with us will serve to finalize the prototype testing and solidify the emerging requirements and specifications.

Phase 4 – Finalizing Specifications and Recommendations (Sept.-Oct. 2012)

None of the prototypes will end up as a fully realized product but will be assembled as functional prototypes with clear logic structures that will work to develop out full-scaled specification plans. Phase 4 will culminate in the compilation of the proposed technical specification to build out the toolset as a functional blueprint for any and all viable agencies considering executing the work. Documentation will include findings of what worked well and what did not; development strategy, timeline and budget for a complete system; as well as further recommendations for future development prospects and growth areas. C&J will lean upon its vast experience and that of its project partners in developing out extensive other specification and feature list models for similar systems to provide SCEMS with a specific development strategy, estimated timeline, estimated budget, and preferred technological requirements to best position SCEMS to solicit viable offers for the development of a comprehensive tool suite that will help to enable educators ease of discovery, rich annotation, dynamic rating, intentional sharing/promoting, and unique derivative creation processes focused on items that currently make up or are to be adopted into the Smithsonian Education digital repository. It is the intent to also provide a general licensing schema and protocol for SCEMS to promote, and a framework for publishing required metadata associated with the collection to the national Learning Registry to vastly extend access and use of the Smithsonian Education across diverse, active user communities.