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International Education Research and Development Groups

Modified according to suggestions, June 7, 1997: Thank you to all who have responded to date. -Editor

The Basic Proposal:

To form Core Groups of teachers focused on single courses, or on common areas. All courses are eligible; this is proposal would work for any course. As examples of the possible range, we list the following: Algebra I, IB English B, Middle Years Language Arts-Social Studies, IGCSE French, AP Biology, 7th grade/Year 8 Social Studies-History-Geography, 2nd grade/Year 3 Process writing and reading, etc. Examples of areas that would benefit from such collaboration are career advising, counseling, sports program administration, technology program administration, language program administration, library administration and others.


Listservs and Web Forums

The easiest way to begin collaboration may be by simple association: It would be possible to set up any number of listservs, one for each area in which there are sufficient numbers of colleagues wishing association. However, many casual listservs already exist and are available to teachers who have Web access. While TIPS would support any teachers willing to moderate lists for particular areas, we suggest that Web page forums are inexpensive alternatives with their own benefits: Web bulletin boards leave records of past conversations on the particular subjects. Those seeking to check on prior submissions have only to look for the title and date of submissions interesting them. Furthermore, they encourage a slightly more careful form of writing, which may be better suited for the purposes listed above.

We are not against Listservs; receiving mail, after all, does not require launching a Web browser and some international school locations make browser-use somewhat frustrating (sic). However, listservs cost TIPS $25. per/month and therefore require greater numbers of initial subscribers to justify their establishment. Research and Development Group Listservs might be justifiable because they would serve specific, collective purposes and would have the potential of attracting sponsorship. TIPS currently supports the large, open listservs on the Internet. Establishment of new lists should be carefully considered. We suggest that the structured tasks and time of the proposed Research and Development Groups would be served well by the establishment of bulletin boards first, and listservs (as well as other "push" media) when justified.

Participant's Responsibilities Leader's Responsibilities
There are three proposed ways to participate. The first and simplest is to
  • read materials (Web, email and print) suggested by the Group Leader
  • engage in discussion via the listserv
  • engage your students in:
    • the e-mail correspondence with other students of participating teachers
    • Web Bulletin Board questions and answers
    • publishing-archiving their work on the Web site
This first option allows the teacher full access to the e-mail list for teachers, the newsletters from the leader, and the privilege of learning from others' reaction-papers. TIPS recommends that a teacher be eligible to receive a single professional development or university graduate credit for this level of work.
The second way to participate includes all of the first level privileges and responsibilities. All participants would expect to receive four newsletters during a one year course from the leader, including an introductory over-view of the entire year (or two years), but a second-level participant would have two additional responsibilities: First, he or she would write an approximately 500 word response to each of the four newsletters from the course leader, including an overview of the course from his or her viewpoint. Secondly, he or she would submit a Lesson plan at a mutually agreed-upon time and on a mutually agreed-upon topic. The reactions would reflect on the course leader's recommendations with particular students in mind. The lesson plan would demonstrate approaches to meeting course criteria and would include a rationale discussing how the lesson met the needs of targeted students. TIPS recommends that participants completing this second level of participation be eligible for two professional development or university graduate credits.
The third way to participate includes all of the others, but adds the requirement of an approximately 1500 word essay based not only on participation in the group, but also on extensive reading on and off the Internet. This essay should contain a substantial bibliography including Internet resources, and should be made into a Web page. TIPS recommends that participants completing the requirements of the third level be granted credit for a full university course.
A Leader would expect to write four newsletters to participants including an introductory over-view of the course (one year or two). This first letter would set the tone and agenda of the group and would be continually revised, with assistance from TIPS, as a Web document over the course. It would contain not only suggested and required topics of study, but suggested methods and bottom line criteria with which participants could choose their own topics.
Participants would be expected to respond with their own overviews with justifications via e-mail. The course leader would work with TIPS to format all responses as Web pages for the perusal of the group within a protected directory on TIPS. All work would thus be archived during the course.
Another responsibility of the group leader would be encouraging members to search the Web and other sources for information relevant to the course and available to participants. TIPS will make articles selected by leaders for which permission to reprint has been obtained available for download. Reading and net-resource finding should be part of the group's experience.
The basic workload of the group leader, then, would consist in writing the four newsletters, reading and responding to group participants's postings via the listserv, the bulletin board and the Web, and in modeling assignment types and responses to student work for the rest of the group's benefit via all of the above media. The course leader's main role could thus be summarized as role-modeling.
In addition to the newsletters and responses after each issue, a private listserv would be provided and course leaders would be responsible for leading the conversation with the aim of creating a community of quality-minded teachers his or her first priority.
At the end of the course, the leader and all participants would be responsible for reading and responding to all summary-reaction papers and for deciding, under the leader's guidance, the shape and content of the group's Web pages, cd and printed publications.
Course leaders would also be responsible for reading and responding to all work done by all participants, and, in the end, for recommending credit for satisfactory course completion with universities or with particular schools for professional development steps.

Benefits to Participants, Leaders and Schools

In exchange for all that work, participants would receive personal mailboxes on the Teacher's Internet Pages' site, access to Web pages made by course leaders just for participants such as Web resources pages, articles and discussion bulletin boards; their students would have access to bulletin boards set up for sharing and collaboration. They would also have the help not only of a committed group of colleagues, but also experienced expert course leaders via the Web and e-mail for an entire year. Finally, participants would become eligible for university credits and, at their respective schools, professional development credits leading to payscale steps.

Course Leaders would benefit from the opportunity to pass-on their accumulated learning to interested colleagues, thus influencing future course directions and benefitting future students. Leaders would also be eligible for course and professional development credit, and would receive an equal share of any royalties owed to the group from the sale of its cd. Finally, course leaders would have the honor of bringing credit to their particular institutions because of being chosen as Research and Development Team Leaders.

Schools would benefit from having either or both particpants and Leaders involved in the Research and Development Groups. Participants would be ensured of high-quality support for their teaching which individual schools would be unable to match. Students would greatly benefit from the small expense involved and quality, sustained professional development for participating teachers would be the result. A school with an R and D Group Leader could justifiably publicize both the Leader's achievement and the school's good fortune to have him or her on its staff.

The Process:


Core groups should be northern or southern hemisphere schedule-specific until the courses are quite established. I strongly suggest that schools grant professional development points toward salary increases for core group-work completion. At the course's end, each group member would participate in the selection of content and in its arrangement on the group's cd; each would then be eligible for royalties from its sale, consistent with his or her level of participation.
The Teacher's Internet would reserve the right of first refusal for publishing any resulting materials and articles. The following details should also be considered:

Questions remaining

Questions remain regarding finding and choosing quality course leaders, finding participants; the remuneration of group leaders and the cost of the course are also in discussion still. Interested parties are invited to address these and other related issues via e-mail to .

What next?

The Teacher's Internet Pages are actively seeking comments and revision suggestions on the above as well as sponsors from the international business community. TIPS will set up a demonstration site reflecting the above ideas and containing answers to frequently asked questions. If you are interested in any aspect of this project, please write expressing your interest and your opinions of this draft proposal.

One final word: the success of such a plan depends heavily on co-operation among interested parties. TIPS invites all quarters of the international educational community to act in a non-partisan manner to promote this opportunity for a project beneficial to all of our members. Spread the word.

David Bucknell,
New International School of Thailand

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Copyright David M. Bucknell©,1996, 1997: TIPS grants limited permission for educational, non-commercial quotations. The entire contents of all work herein is copyrighted by TIPS and its authors. (Please contact for permission to use any parts of TIPS for further publication.) : Comments are Welcomed.