Professional Development | News

Kansas City School District Partners with iEARN To Train Teachers in Project-Based Learning

Educators in the Kansas City, Missouri School District, through a partnership with the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN), are studying in a train-the-trainer format how to engage their classrooms in global project-based learning.

The district-wide Global Education Initiative, as the program is known, is designed to transform Kansas City public schools through the promotion of:

  • International awareness;
  • Project-based learning; and
  • Technology literacy.

Kansas City's partner in this initiative, iEARN, is the world's largest educational network for project-based learning. iEARN programs currently exist in more than 130 countries and, since 1988, have trained more than 100,000 teachers.

The initiative is "designed to provide an innovative optimal learning experience for all students through laboratory, hands-on, problem-based, experiential, technology-rich educational approaches--guided by intelligence and feedback from high growth, high demand industries," said H. MiUndrae Prince, associate superintendent for instructional support and educational accountability for the Kansas City School District, in a prepared statement.

As the iEARN Professional Development Web page describes, Internet-based collaborative learning projects that are explored in the educator training include:

  • Peer review;
  • Team-building;
  • Joining regional and international learning communities; and
  • Developing project-based curricula that integrate national educational standards.

The Kansas City School District has been a leader in education reform, said iEARN-USA's Diane Midness in a prepared statement, noting that the district adopted Common Core educational standards ahead of the state of Missouri.

According to iEARN-USA, approximately 200 Kansas City teachers participated in the network's professional development workshop in August, where they were exposed to iEARN collaborative projects, resources, and online interaction techniques through discussion forums. Teachers at all schools in Kansas City are receiving this professional development through online courses and onsite workshops.

One of these onsite workshops this July was in Taiwan, where two professional development trainers from Kansas City had the opportunity to share best practices with 500 educators who are already familiar with online collaborative project-based learning.

"It was an amazing opportunity to make connections with educators from around the world and hear how they are using technologies to enhance student learning through international project work online," said Kansas City educator Steve Fraley, who attended the iEARN Conference in Taiwan. "I now have the chance to share both these connections and the lessons learned with my colleagues here in Kansas City. I love that iEARN allows students to learn in authentic experiences."

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About the Author

Kerry A. Sullivan is a freelance writer in based in Virginia. She can be reached at [email protected].