How Kent ISD is equipping teachers, one text at a time.
Kent ISD works to provide the best possible learning experience for their students
Kent ISD is a Michigan based educational services agency, helping school districts, educators and administrators provide the best possible learning experience for their students.
When the pandemic forced Michigan schools to abruptly move online, many teachers were left uncertain how to provide valuable education virtually. Kent ISD noticed two major pain points in K-12 educators’ virtual classrooms: engaging students through video and conducting virtual assessments. Unfortunately, most teachers were too overwhelmed trying to manage their daily classroom from afar to dedicate much time to any new training or professional development (PD). With teachers and students struggling around the state, Kent ISD set out to find an efficient virtual approach to professional development for educators.
[Teachers] needed support in learning new strategies, new techniques, but they needed it in a way that was manageable for them in an already wild year.
As Keith Tramper, an educational technology consultant for Kent ISD, began his search for innovative new approaches to PD amidst a pandemic, he recalled trying out First Draft’s course on media literacy through Arist. He had immediately been struck by the ease of learning and accessible format, two key aspects in course design for overworked teachers. With the need for resources growing among educators, Tramper and the Kent ISD team set out to design their own Arist courses.
I'd been in one of the early courses through Arist, I had never seen anything like it. I was like, eh, we will see what this looks like and was super impressed by how much I could learn in very short blasts of information.
Putting the course together
Tramper decided to design 2 pilot Arist courses, each focused on a specific, remote learning challenge. The first course focused on how to craft an engaging video class. For many teachers, holding the attention of young students through the screen had become a daily struggle. By taking this course, teachers could learn the importance of considering the student as an audience, and rework their in-person learning strategies to successful video-based ones.
The second course focused on how to approach testing and quizzes through remote learning. Without the ease of monitoring exams in a classroom setting, many teachers were left with no way to measure students’ progress in learning. This course provided new strategies for conducting virtual assessments that provided teachers with an accurate idea of comprehension, without allowing students to turn to Google for the answer.
Text message PD really made it short, manageable, and actionable...things that [teachers] could take and apply right away into their classrooms.
A meaningful impact
Tramper and his team rolled out their two courses to more than 60 K-12 educators around the state. The response was remarkably enthusiastic; one participant noted that “the flexibility of being able to complete professional development wherever me and my smartphone are is very liberating!” “I absolutely loved that these tips were shared in small, manageable increments,” another teacher enthused. The outpour of positive feedback showed Tramper and the Kent ISD team that Arist courses could quickly become an integral part of PD for educators. Since the launch of their two pilot courses, Kent ISD has continued to rework each course to make the content increasingly accessible and efficient, while exploring new use cases for text message learning.
For Tramper, text message learning could be the future of professional development: “I think it's just going to be a challenge for teachers to engage in professional learning where they go to a place and learn all day or all week. And we're going to have to start shifting to things more like text message PD.”