The EdHub Library: A Microlearning Design Approach for Teacher Professional Development
By Javier Leung, University of Missouri
What is the EdHub Library?
The EdHub Library is an online professional development (PD) platform for K-12 teachers and school administrators maintained by the College of Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initially funded the EdHub Library in 2014 in partnership with the university. The purpose of the EdHub Library is to support teachers, principals, university teaching assistants, and teacher prep students in the advancement of best practices in teaching and learning in PK-12 and higher education levels (EdHub Library, n.d.).
EdHub is part of the Network of Educator Effectiveness (NEE). NEE is a comprehensive educator evaluation system that tracks multiple measures of educator effectiveness, including classroom observation of teachers, units of instruction, professional development plans, and student surveys (Network for Educator Effectiveness, n.d.). NEE school districts have access to (1) a video library of best practices in classroom teaching, (2) a video library of examples for scoring classroom observations, (3) a catalog of self-paced online modules, (4) copyrighted assessment instruments, and (5) a yearly principal calibration training.
Teachers Need Professional Development
Desimone (2011) argued that the core features of effective teacher professional development lie in content focus, active learning, coherence, duration, and collective participation. These core features of effective teacher professional development focus on the alignment of subject matter content with the school district’s goals and policies by allowing teachers to provide feedback about their instructional practices and challenges during PD activities.
Guskey (2002) argued that the ultimate goal of staff development is to address the motivational aspect of teachers engaging in professional development. A change in teachers’ beliefs and attitudes occurs when teachers participate in PD and change their classroom practices when teachers see evidence of increased student learning outcomes.
Microlearning + Usability = EdHub
While a multitude of teacher professional development is available online, e-learning material is often long and does not align with teacher standards and goals of school districts. The EdHub Library is designed using microlearning principles that align professional development materials with Missouri Learning Standards (Missouri Learning Standards, n.d.). While the body of research defines microlearning as bite-size delivery of content, EdHub is built on seven dimensions of microlearning defined by Hug (2005). These dimensions are related to microlearning activities that are focused on time, content, curriculum, form, process, mediality, and learning type.
The current design of EdHub Library was the result of lessons learned from past design iterations and user feedback. In Videos 1 and 2, the animated screenshots highlight the differences in the presentation and alignment of microlearning content to teacher standards between the old and new iterations of EdHub. While both designs support a microlearning strategy, the old design was not intuitive enough for users to navigate and search content that was buried in five levels down from the homepage, whereas the new design supports a simplified navigation in three levels and provides users two ways to search for content in the form of sitemaps that are aligned to teacher standards and a search engine that organizes content results by topic groups.
Video 1. Old Design of the EdHub Library
Video 2. Current Design of the EdHub Library
Design Focus on Microlearning and Usability
While user feedback was instrumental in the current iteration of the library, the navigation structure of EdHub is synthesized in three components using topics, modules, and activities to organize bite-size content. In Video 3, the EdHub homepage is organized into four components to support user navigation: (1) content bookmarks, (2) search engine, (3) content sitemaps organized by teacher standards, and (4) topic lists that highlight a set of teacher standards and summary of modules.
Video 3. EdHub Homepage Structure
With over 500 microlearning activities, the organization of content is a key component for facilitating user navigation to allow users to glance over available professional development topics from the homepage. Within each topic, modules are organized by teacher indicators in a searchable format as shown in Video 4. Each module is organized using bookmarks for module objectives, activities and tasks, and external resources as shown in Video 5. More importantly, content breadcrumbs are placed throughout EdHub to allow users to return to the EdHub homepage or topic list.
Video 4. Searchable Topic Structure
Video 5. Module Structure
Even though the estimated time for completing a module is between 45 and 60 minutes, a module contains 3 to 7 smaller activities. Users are not expected to review all the activities in a prescribed sequence, but users can pick a set of activities that match their professional development needs. Similar to the organization of activities, tasks are aligned with instructional activities to support teacher reflection as shown in Video 6.
Video 6. Organization of Activities and Tasks
While casual browsing of materials from the homepage helps users with an overview of professional development topics, users are also able to search content in two ways: (1) sitemaps or lists by teacher indicator, and (2) a search engine. For users who are looking for specific professional development resources, sitemaps are organized by teacher standards. Also, modules are presented in a searchable format by title and indicator, and users can jump to the resource from the list as shown in Video 7.
Video 7. Searchable Sitemap of Modules by Standards
The second method for finding content is the search engine. With the search engine method, users are presented with results organized by topic groups based on the user’s search query. The search engine also picks up interchangeable terms based on a customized search dictionary. For example, search results for “PDP” are similar when using the term “professional development plan” as shown in Video 8.
Video 8. EdHub Search Engine
As a final note, the EdHub Library is a growing resource for teacher professional development that is being used for formal and informal learning in NEE school districts. Since microlearning and usability are at the center for aligning professional development with teacher standards and improving user navigation, studies are needed to analyze usage patterns of professional development materials as the library grows. To learn more about the Network for Educator Effectiveness, please visit http://nee.missouri.edu
Desimone, L. M. (2011). A primer on effective professional development. Phi delta kappan, 92(6), 68-71.
EdHub Library. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://education.missouri.edu/outreach/edhub/
Guskey, T. R. (2002). Does it make a difference? Evaluating professional development. Educational leadership, 59(6), 45.
Hug, T. (2005): Micro learning and narration: Exploring possibilities of utilization of narrations and storytelling for the designing of "micro units" and didactical microlearning arrangements. Paper presented at the Fourth Media in Transition conference, May 6–8, 2005, MIT, Cambridge (MA), USA.
Missouri Learning Standards. (n.d). Retrieved from https://dese.mo.gov/college-career-readiness/curriculum/missouri-learning-standards
Network for Educator Effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://nee.missouri.edu/
About the Author
Javier Leung is a seasoned Instructional Designer, e-Learning Developer, and Front-End Web Developer in higher education and talent development industries. His experience revolves around building online and hybrid learning experiences and evaluating learning designs through data mining and machine learning. He is pursuing a doctoral degree in Information Science and Learning Technologies with an emphasis on Data Science and Analytics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. https://www.JavierLeung.com
His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
His formal ORCID is available at https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3457-8666. His Google Scholar information is available at https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=xNUNjPoAAAAJ&hl=en.
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