As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative research, approaches and resources for use in a variety of settings. The project will derive a nationwide online coaching/mentoring program for out of school educators in rural settings. The program builds on a Noyce Foundation pilot project. The issue to be addressed is that educators in rural settings are challenged in a multitude of ways due to isolation. This project will try to find ways to alleviate some of the consequences of isolation through resource sharing, knowledge sharing, and unique techniques for communicating with students. Partners in this effort are the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, the National AfterSchool Association, Development Without Limits, and the Maine State Library.
By using widely-available technologies, this project will bring fully online instructional coaching in STEM to out-of-school educators who live too remotely to attend ongoing in-person workshops. The project team will achieve this by adapting a highly promising coaching program where groups of educators video-record their own work with youth, practice key skills, and meet regularly to discuss their work. The project will: (a) test technical challenges to achieve fully virtual implementation; (b) design and adapt a specific STEM-skill curriculum to align with different levels of need; (c) customize the model to work with rural librarians; and (d) integrate the work into existing state and national accreditation systems.
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