Laura Gibbs

14. Go, Broward County!

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on Aug 12, 2018

You can see the embedded video here: Broward County


After Kona's inspiring presentation on student-centered teaching, the next presentation I went to was something completely different, and equally wonderful. The lovely ladies of Broward County showed us how they used their school district's adoption of Canvas as a way to completely transform their district's professional development efforts, including secretaries and teachers, bus drivers and principals, and everybody in-between... over 20,000 people participated in professional development activities as they moved to Canvas this past year. The range and depth of what they did with Canvas in a single year is amazing. I'm really glad that Stephen Simpson and Bobby Pedersen sent me to this presentation: it's not the kind of thing I would have chosen, and it turned out to be a great experience.


I'm really looking forward to the video for this one because the graphic presentation was so charming: there were arcade-style circus graphics for each segment of the presentation, and apparently the music that goes with it is really cute. We couldn't hear the music during the presentation, but the AV tech who was there said we'd be able to hear the music in the video recording.


They also had applause signs! And of course the audience gladly applauded; it was a fantastic presentation. I can definitely believe they offer lots of fun PD in Broward County because they made this presentation very fun!


The lovely ladies also had hats; you can see them in their hats during the presentation here:


Broward County presentation screenshot


And here they are having fun afterwards:


ladies in hats


The 3-Ring Circus: Optimizing Canvas to Meet the Needs of a Diverse Workforce


The women presenting are self-proclaimed "creative people with knowledge to share" ... my kind of people! And they each have 20+ years of experience in education and employee development. They had over 20,000 instructional and non-instructional staff participating in Canvas-based professional development last year, and that's in a huge school district (6th largest in the nation), with over 226,000 students and 15,000 teachers, plus 8,000 non-instructional support staff.


As Broward County's teachers and students moved to Canvas last year, they decided to do their professional development in Canvas too, so that everybody would know Canvas. They designed the PD using the principles of adult learning, problem-centered, autonomous and self-directed, with an acknowledgement of the skills and experience that learners already have, while helping them to develop new skills.


They saw a wide range of learners and skill levels, and the way they sought buy-in was by helping everyone to see that they would directly benefit from learning about and in Canvas, using it as a fun and non-threatening learning environment, friendly to learners who might have never done any kind of  learning before, adapting to the learners' lifestyles and schedules. For example, they used people's familiarity with their mobile phone's home screen to design the homepages for the Canvas PD courses. They wanted to use Canvas to promote technology literacy for all, including employees, introducing all staff to 21st-century learning.


Be sure to watch the video for details about how they used Canvas course modules so that learners would unlock the modules by passing a quiz, demonstrating competencies, etc. If I understood correctly there was a core module included in all the courses -- "Canvas as a student" -- that would allow everyone both to use Canvas and also to understand how the students would be using Canvas too.


They also used Canvas to build content hubs where staff could find instructions, policies, resources, always current and up-to-date in one place. My favorite part of the presentation was about a staff person (a secretary? I am not sure) who created an Employee Handbook for her middle school, all in Canvas. She took all the available Canvas professional development courses, and then used her expertise to create the Handbook. Instead of Sharepoint or endless email, she consolidated everything in a Canvas course space, and she used assignments to get people to confirm that they had received/used the information being provided. I think that sounds amazing!


They have big plans for their second year (their first year sounds like it was monumental)... I hope we can get some of the folks from Broward County to participate here at the Community and share their ongoing developments!