State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell today unveiled a new Web 2.0 tool designed to encourage teacher collaboration and innovation called Brokers of Expertise: http://www.myboe.org/ .
“The Brokers of Expertise Web site is like Facebook for teachers,” O’Connell said. “Educators can use this site to innovate and collaborate. Through this virtual social network teachers may share and learn about strategies that improve student achievement.
"Through the Broker’s Web site, we will create a community of newly credentialed and experienced teachers who are empowered to further their own professional development and growth. This exciting tool is the latest in our arsenal to narrow the pernicious achievement gap that currently leaves too many students unprepared for success in the hypercompetitive global economy.”
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Brokers of Expertise is a dynamic Web site that allows educators to search for,and follow colleagues across the state who have had success in teaching specific strands of California’s content standards, or are working with similar types of students, and thus make their own experience in the classroom more effective. Teachers can use the site to form customized online groups to share experiences and challenges they face in the classroom and collaborate on ways to improve instruction. Users can share instructional practices through links, video, pictures, or documents that can make it easier for other teachers to replicate innovation in their own classrooms. The Web site also lists where each resource came from and provides a blog where educators may share their thoughts on the resource’s effectiveness.
The Brokers of Expertise Web site was seeded with high-quality content from partners including, The Big Read, Calisphere, Edutopia, The Exploratorium, Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE), the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the National Science Digital Library (NSDL), Smithsonian Education, and Thinkfinity.
Educators who used the Broker’s Web site in the beta testing phase improved the site by recommending additional functionalities and features that make the site more useful for classroom teachers.
The development of the Brokers Web site closely aligns with the Obama Administration’s push to spur innovation in the classroom to dramatically accelerate student achievement.
"Smart innovation will help dramatically accelerate achievement and attainment," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when he recently challenged public school educators to think creatively and implement innovative classroom ideas to help students succeed. “Without it, we will surely fall short of our goals to prepare all of America's students for success in the global economy."
The Brokers Web site is just the latest tool introduced by O’Connell as a result of 14 recommendations made by the California P-16 Council in its report submitted in 2008. Other tools include the California Distinguished Schools Signature Practices Web site, the Workbook for Improving School Climate & Closing the Achievement Gap publication, and the Resource Kit for Developing Partnerships to Close the Achievement Gap Web site.
One of the 14 recommendations that resulted in the Brokers Web site suggested the state should take a leadership role in creating a system for the identification, collection, and dissemination of a comprehensive body of knowledge and expertise, including resources and effective instructional strategies. Another recommended that the state needed to define more clearly what constitutes a rigorous instructional program, and to develop an online system for providing best practices for educators that can be used in the classroom. Both of these recommendations are accomplished through the Brokers of Expertise Web site.
The Brokers Web site was created through the support of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, the Stuart Foundation, the Verizon Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation. Funding was also provided from the state’s General Fund, and the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s Title I and Title V programs.