Statewide collaboration to provide free professional development to teachers

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LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Virtual, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan join together in a statewide collaboration to provide online professional learning modules for Michigan’s teachers. The goal is to outline current research and best practices for educators teaching remotely.

Each of the project’s contributors—MSU’s College of Education, University of Michigan’s School of Education and Michigan Virtual—will share expertise in 6-9 free modules for teachers and educational leaders, all expected to be launched prior to Sept. 30, 2021.

The collaboration is funded by $1.4 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund for Michigan, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and will be split by the three partners.

“This will propel a new era of education,” said Bryan Beverly, director of the Office of K-12 Outreach and MSU’s liaison for the project. “These modules will support educators’ understanding of the effective use of technology, providing opportunities for students to explore content in various modes of instruction.”

For more than a year, MSU, U-M and Michigan Virtual have been in conversation about providing additional assistance to the state’s educators. Following the switch to remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need became more urgent, Beverly said.

Our goal in course design is to do our best to ‘walk the talk’ of effective online learning. In other words, as we engage teachers in thinking about online teaching and learning through the lens of equity and inclusion, we want to model effective practices and provide a learning experience that is accessible, engaging and impactful. One way to do this is to engage teachers in ‘meta-moments’ where we call out our own design decisions and the theory behind them and ask participants to consider how they can apply these same ideas and practices in their own teaching.

Darin Stockdill, design coordinator at the University of Michigan Center for Education Design, Evaluation and Research

MSU will lead three key areas in the modules, including:

  • Project-based learning—led by Joe Krajcik, director of the CREATE for STEM Institute and Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education, and Chris Reimann, director of policy and strategic partnerships for CREATE for STEM
  • Culturally sustaining and anti-racist education, leadership and administration—with expertise from Assistant Professor Jane C. Lo, Associate Professor Alyssa Hadley Dunn, Professor and Associate Dean Terah Venzant Chambers and Professor Gerardo López
  • Inclusive education for students with special needs—with expertise from Associate Professor Martin Volker, Professor Gloria Lee, Associate Professor Connie Sung and Assistant Professor Kristin Rispoli

MSU will also contribute to a module on social/emotional learning, with direction from Michigan Virtual.

“I’m glad that our college will add these modules to other ways we’ve been working to assist educators during the pandemic,” said Dean Robert E. Floden. “I expect that K-12 instruction will continue to include remote learning in the coming years, so what educators learn will be of lasting value.”

Additional modules, led by experts from the University of Michigan and Michigan Virtual, will cover:

  • Trauma-informed practice online, informed by culturally sustaining and anti-racist practices
  • Inclusive education online for English Language learners
  • Inquiry-based learning and disciplinary literacy instruction online for upper elementary and secondary students

The areas were identified by the Governor’s Education Advisory Council, which includes four Spartan alumni. The Council also provided guiding principles for the professional development suggesting, among other things, that the modules should be supportive of new and experienced teachers; provide opportunities for peer-based collaboration, coaching, reflection and discussion; and focus on anti-bias and social justice.

It is rewarding to collaborate with nationally recognized experts at MSU and UM to create a series of professional development modules that will be made available to all Michigan school personnel. I am confident these free training resources will help teachers, administrators and others make the transitions needed to support all learners in new and traditional learning environments.

Jamey Fitzpatrick, Michigan Virtual President & CEO

Each module will range from 5-10 hours and, upon completion of each, educators will be awarded State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECHs).

“Practitioners have been seeking additional ways to engage with all students, and are looking for strategies that particularly define ways to support each of those sub-groups, such as students with special needs,” Beverly added. “These modules will help fill that gap.”

As the modules are launched, they will be featured on the Michigan Department of Education and the Michigan Virtual websites.

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About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual™ (formally known as Michigan Virtual University®) provides online courses for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute®. As a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience, Michigan Virtual is Michigan’s leading voice in online education. Visit us at michiganvirtual.org.

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Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.