|he Online Academy was funded by the U. S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) three years ago to develop 22 e-learning instructional modules for use in pre-service (higher education) programs. The modules encompassed three content areas (Reading, Technology in Education and Positive Behavioral Support), and incorporated the best practices that could be derived from valid research findings. Two years into that project, OSEP determined that the self-contained and content-rich modules would be equally applicable to, if not more relevant for, in-service (professional staff development) training needs. Therefore, in year-3 of the Academy grant, a supplement was provided to develop a small number of exemplary online modules for staff development, on topics of high national concern.
The staff development project contained three elements: 1) determine what content areas or topics were most important for future staff development needs; 2) develop new modules, one each, in each of the top five areas; and 3) work with state and local education agencies to implement a staff development model using existing and new modules. After conducting a national survey online and through focus groups, an inventory of over 100 key areas of assessed staff development needs was compiled. The top five were determined, and experts in each area were employed to outline the contents of a sample module. These nationally recognized experts are currently working with Academy staff to write and produce the five new modules for use in the staff development project. The academy is also working with select state and local education agencies to pilot test and implement the system.
MODULE DEVELOPMENT AND TOPIC SELECTION PROCESS
The Online Academy Staff held three focus group sessions, commissioned a national survey, and reviewed various papers to come up with ten categories and 113 topics (see the survey link) of important staff development issues.
Focus groups were held in D.C. area, one with OSEP officials and two at CSPD. Information was also gathered from various white papers that were combined to create the survey lists. Notes were recorded by three non-participants in each Focus Session. Notes were then consolidated and sorted by staff development topics and issues. Staff development topics were defined as those concerns that could be addressed through effective staff development. Issues were defined as concerns that are pervasive and which do not translate directly into topics that could be addressed through staff development.
Once the recorded concerns were sorted by staff development topics and issues, the staff development topics were clustered. The emphasis of each cluster was described and the staff development topics were listed by cluster. No attempt was made to add to the list of staff development topics generated through the Focus Sessions and the review of reports, comments, and SIE proposals.
A report was prepared for each data input source e.g., Focus Session and document reviews. Once the individual reports were completed the staff development topics and issues were consolidated into a single pool, e.g., a composite pool of suggested staff development topics and suggested issues. Once pooled, each set was revisited to eliminate redundancies. The following topics were selected and developed into modules.
Module I: Curricular Design and Instructional Accommodations for Secondary Students with Mild Disabilities
Lesson 1: Rationale and Requirements for Accommodations
Lesson 2: Overview of Accommodations and Adaptations
Lesson 3: Traditional Interpretations and Applications
Lesson 4: Universally-Accessible Content
Lesson 5: Differentiation for Diverse Students
Lesson 6: Assessment and Grading
Module II: Relating Instructional Assessments to Standards Lesson 1: Educational Accountability: What does it really mean?
Lesson 2: Standards-Based Instruction
Lesson 3: Accommodations for the Classroom
Lesson 4: Preparing Students for Testing and Assessment
Module III: Models of Collaboration
Lesson 1: Defining Cooperative Teaching
Lesson 2: Identifying Key Interpersonal Skills
Lesson 3: The Five Key Elements of Cooperative Teaching
Lesson 4: Getting Started
Module IV: Transition-Focused Secondary Education for All Students
Lesson 1: Transition Planning and the IEP
Lesson 2: Participation in Transition IEP Meetings
Lesson 3: The Importance of Student Self-Determination During the Transition from School to Adult Life
Module V: Developing Standards-based IEPs
Lesson 1: IEP Fundamentals
Lesson 2: Initiating IEP Development
Lesson 3: Developing the Heart of the IEP
Lesson 4: Completing the IEP
Lesson 5: Does the IEP Provide FAPE?
STAFF DEVELOPMENT ADVISORY BOARD