Using Videoconferencing for Elementary/Secondary Teacher Professional Development
Working within a large geographic area, McDonald Observatory lacks the resources to send staff to present professional development workshops to teachers – and only limited numbers of teachers have the resources to attend workshops at our observatory. Our solution is the development of a new program to bring the workshop to teachers in their own communities through videoconferencing. Each workshop location has a co-facilitator who prepared for his/her duties through an orientation/training session held at McDonald Observatory. At the observatory, they experienced a variety of activities and selected the ones most suitable for the grade-levels of the teachers in their region; they recruit the teachers for the local workshop. Each videoconference session includes pre/post assessment of the participants, an interactive videoconference with an expert presenter, and assistance from the co-facilitator who manages the materials and assists with the activities. Through use of this technology, we expect to reach 500 teachers. An independent evaluator is preparing formative and summative evaluation for the project.