PD Challenge: First to Reach 1 Million Online Hours = $100,000 Prize

Associate Editor

A technology company called Shindig is challenging school districts and other education entities to be the first to deliver 1 million hours of online professional development to teachers on the company’s platform, and win $100,000 for their organization.

Schools, districts, associations, and non-commercial organizations that want to take the challenge will be able to access the company’s online video chat technology for free, according to Shindig founder and CEO Steve Gottlieb. Once registered, they can then begin collaborating and training; the website’s analytics will keep track of hours.

Shindig, which has been used for online events by Facebook, the American Museum of Natural History, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Code.org, and #PTchat, provides a technology that helps people engage, face-to-face, via video.

Using the company’s technology, anyone can be “brought to the front of the class,” and students can confer with one another, break up into teams, collaborate, and share their experiences, said Gottlieb. It’s not necessary for a teacher to have video capabilities to participate, he said.

“There is a clear need for a teacher community,” said Gottlieb. He referred to a recent study from TNTP (formerly known as The New Teacher Project) that evaluated professional development in three districts, but could not find a link between teachers who improved their performance and the specific professional development they said they had received.

Non-commercial institutions that record the interactive PD delivered on the Shindig platform are welcome to use those recordings as they see fit, Gottlieb said. They are not the property of Shindig. Likeweise, rosters of registrants for the professional development are also the property of the organizations hosting the event, and not Shindig’s.

What’s in it for Shindig?

“We’re not even going after the K-12 marketplace right now,” said Gottlieb. “We have no offering that we’re selling into school districts. This isn’t some strategy to sell something after this.”

The company is focused on providing an online video event platform to the media and entertainment industries, he said. Its competitors include Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, and Adobe Connect, according to Gottlieb. 

The CEO also said his company could benefit “if we could point to a thriving community” that had been built online using the Shindig technology. That boost could help their standing with financial institutions and other areas of the economy “that would be very lucrative to us,” he said.

In the meantime, he is empahsizing the ability to use the platform for teachers to engage with one another. “If we allow teachers to collaborate and build community and be productive, other sectors of the economy will see that as powerful,” he said.

To learn more, educators can email pdchallenge@shindig.com.

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