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Project Share Demystified: 7 Comments for Clarity

Project Share Demystified

Welcome back to school everyone.  This summer was like no other I have seen in my years as an educator.  The release of new TEKS and subsequent state developed trainings made for a very busy summer.logo

With this hectic whirlwind of change came a TEA backed project called Project Share.  I meet people who are all along the spectrum in their understanding of this project.  This range is from “never heard of it” to “already using it”.

The goal of this blog post is to shed light on Project Share and how it impacts you as a Texas Educator.

1.  Project Share is a web 2.0 portal system that runs in the Epsilen platform.  For this reason, you will hear Project Share and Epsilen used interchangeably.  Epsilen is the software, Project Share is the code name for the project.

2.  Project Share is available for free to every employee of Texas public schools and open enrollment charter schools.  It is not currently open to private schools or outside entities. 

 3. Project Share is being used for school employees currently, not students.  Selected student pilot projects will start this fall.  More information about student involvement will come as we approach the spring semester.

 4.  Project Share has five main functions:

  • Public Teacher e-Portfolios can be used in a way similar to a classroom website, or for a more personal profile of the teacher.  These are life-long and will remain with every person, for life, regardless of their employment status or job location. 
  • Professional Learning Communities in the form of professional social networking.  Simply put, educators across the state (and nation) can connect to one another based on interests, and more, allowing for extended “Networks” of job-alike, interest-alike communities.  Comparisons have been made to a professional Facebook, or Linkd’In functionality.  Networks are not moderated and the interactions are driven by interest.
  • Full featured work groups can be formed by invitation which provides local and remote teams a workshop of collaborative tools such as file sharing, wiki pages, shared calendars, advanced communication management, blog spaces, a public web page and more.   Groups are moderated and the work is defined and specific.
  • Institution Corners are the district’s Project Share “home page”.  Used creatively, this page can facilitate news and information, faculty contact lists including portfolios, district calendars, shared objects such as important files for parents and much more.
  • E-Course management such as in Moodle or Blackboard is a key component of Project Share.  These tools allow districts to design and deliver online courses for professional development and will eventually allow teachers to create blended learning environments for students.

 5. Project Share is a local endeavor. Although TEA is providing the portal at no charge, and ESC XIII and other ESC’s are supporting rollout and training, the role of each school district is to upload, manage and support its own stakeholders.  This includes making key decisions on the use of Project Share’s many features and options.  For help with these tasks, please contact your service center.

6. Project Share is not mandatory.  However, these past few months have indicated that there is and will be a vast amount of activity and resources available in Project Share.  Teachers are getting notifications about curriculum updates and resources, groups, courses and networks – all of which require an active account.  Additionally, Project Share is home to an expanding collection of digital resources from major publishers and is a likely warehouse for digital materials and online courses related to textbooks and more.  In short, Texas education employees will (if they have not already) encounter a road block to the next generation of statewide education communication if they do not have the capacity to log in and participate.

 7.  TEA also recently announced the release of Texas Education on iTunes U which infinitely expands the possibilities of Project Share content.  Read more here. http://www.tea.state.tx.us/itunesu/

 As Project Share slowly works its way into our daily vocabulary, skepticism concerning the its staying power, long term funding, and added value is a healthy part of current dialogue.  I encourage you to contact us here at Region XIII by e-mailing projectshare@esc13.txed.net to get further clarification and a better understanding of how this new resource will factor into the teaching and learning in your school.

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