In past blogs, I have discussed the Michigan graduation requirements, among which is the inclusion of an online experience for students, making Michigan the first state in the nation to require an online course or online experience for high school graduation. Further, I have shared my belief that if experiencing online learning is good for students, then it only makes sense that it is equally, if not more, important and good for administrators.
To that end, as developers of the MI-LIFE (Michigan Leadership Improvement Framework Endorsement) curriculum for school leaders, we included two instructor-led online courses in the MI-LIFE Program. The coursework for the first of these, Aligning Systems, includes assigned reading, developing a visual representation (Gliffy) of the systemic implications of an initiative in an individual's district/school, posting documents to the group online file exchange, interacting in online group discussion boards, and a final project of conducting a comprehensive gap analysis to determine whether the components of the systems within their district/school were in place and that the various domains were aligned so that the system supports continuous school improvement efforts.
Aligning Systems concluded in July with over two hundred district/school administrators from twelve regions in the state participating in the six-week online course. The majority of the participants had never taken an online course and we were somewhat skeptical as to whether they would fully participate and/or complete the course - especially at a very busy time of year when they were wrapping up the 07-08 school year.
The first four columns in the chart below represent data from a survey that was completed by 313 school administrators. The first two columns represent responses to the question, "Have you ever taken an online course?" The second two columns represent responses to the question, "If you answered no, would you be willing to take an online course?" And the final column represents the percentage of administrators in the MI-LIFE program who successfully completed the Aligning Systems online course.
Course evaluation comments included:
"I enjoyed online learning more than I thought. I also believe that the opportunity has helped me to understand what it feels like to be a learner. . .which will help us as we plan for our students."
"This was good for me to do. While I have a love for the Internet, message boards, streamed video, etc...I have never had the confidence to learn on-line. Now I do!"
This is a huge accomplishment to have so many practicing administrators not only participate in an online course, but successfully complete it and they should be applauded for their commitment.
Cross posted on the LeaderTalk Blog