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NEA Adds Algebra Coaching Service for Members
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A service being tried out by a handful of districts that puts algebra teachers in touch with coaches online for real-time professional development sessions has a new group of test pilots. The National Education Association Member Benefits (NEAMB) will be making Tutor.com's MyLivePD service available free to the first 100 members who sign up through its NEA Academy learning environment. NEAMB provides benefit programs and services to National Education Association union members.
MyLivePD participants gain access to experienced coaches in a private online environment that includes text-chat and voice over IP. They don't have to make an appointment to get help; they log in and post a request to open up a coaching session. The service can be used as often as needed and helps teachers with instructional questions ranging from pedagogy to classroom management. Coaches work with each teacher to create solutions that are intended to be used right away in their classroom.
The pilot, which began in September 2011, is being funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Before the NEA deal, about a hundred teachers had been using MyLivePD from three districts and three Teach for America regions.
According to a recent survey conducted among the initial testers, nine out of 10 instructors use the information from their session the next day in the classroom. "The [coach] helped me think about options I had forgotten," reported one eighth grade algebra teacher. "Once the memory was jogged, I knew what to do. Saved me [a half] hour!"
The National Education Association members who gain access to the service will receive it through June 30, 2012. Service hours currently run from Sunday through Thursday from 2 p.m. to midnight Eastern time.
"We are excited to partner with Tutor.com on the MyLivePD product, the just in time delivery of instruction is a significant new way to meet the need of today's busy NEA members and to assist them with their instructional requirements" said Mark Stevens, NEA Academy's general manager. "Tutor.com's innovative delivery concept is going to set a new standard in online professional development delivery."
NEA members can sign up for the pilot at neaacademy.org.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.