It's About Time publishers in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder develop and test a cyberlearning professional-development model that builds on the successful Curriculum Customization Service model implemented in Denver with EarthComm. The cyberlearning system is tested with the Project Based Inquiry Science (PBIS) curriculum - a proven comprehensive middle school science curriculum. In the first two years, six unit-specific materials, curriculum implementation webinars, electronic teacher editions, and teacher planning guide software are developed with teacher input and tested. In the third year, forty middle school teachers nationwide use the cyberlearning system. The learning of their students is compared to students of teachers who had other professional development. The cyberlearning system is evaluated for scalability, affordability, flexibility, and effectiveness for changing teacher practice and student learning.
In the first two years ethnographic studies done by WestEd inform the project about how teachers use the cyberlearning system and which parts are most efficacious. At the same time WestEd collects data of student learning and classroom practice from teachers who have had traditional professional development offered by the publishers. At the same time, data are gathered about student learning in classes whose teachers receive traditional professional development. These teachers form a matched control group for the teachers engaged in cyberlearning professional development in the third year. Their student learning data are compared to the learning of students whose teachers are engaged in the cyberlearning professional development. The research is evaluated by three members of the Advisory Board who have credentials in research methodology, content and broadening participation.
Effective implementation of reform-based STEM curricula depends upon curriculum-based, consistent and well developed professional development. Scaling-up to a broad-based national market is logistically constrained by traditional face-to-face professional development. The project will lead to a tested, useful, affordable, and effective system on-line system to support teacher implementation of reform science curricula that will be used by It's About Time publishers and will be available to others. The results disseminated in the research and practitioner literature can transform the professional development provided by publishers of reform science materials.