November 5, 2019

Dr. Kelli Odden, associate professor of education at Mayville State University, has headed up a project that is providing online professional development opportunities for early childhood educators in North Dakota. Through their work on the project, Kelli and her team are proud to be helping many educators get the training and certification they need, and happy to have found a convenient technology solution that works well for their audience.

With the introduction of new early childhood standards for early childhood educators in North Dakota, the Department of Public Instruction and Department of Human Services secured a grant that allowed them to create online early childhood training that supported the state’s early childhood professional development needs.

That is when they enlisted the help of Dr. Odden. In addition to ensuring that the professional development created met the state’s new standards, Odden wanted to make sure that the courses would be accessible and affordable for learners.

She reached out to the North Dakota Center for Distance Education (NDCDE), which has run North Dakota’s online high school program for almost 30 years, to collaborate in finding a flexible and convenient online solution. Because the targeted population is spread out across the state, with many in highly rural area, and includes a broad range of ages, experience, and vocations, Kelli and the NDCDE looked for a solution that would facilitate interaction without requiring the time, cost, and travel of face-to-face training.

John Struchynski, technical director of the NDCDE, suggested the use of the Agilix/Dawn mobile-first and video-centric professional development solution. He did the preliminary set up work on the site and handed it off to Kelli and her curriculum partner, Katie Larson, who began building and importing their curriculum.

The site launched the first week of September in 2019. The team had set a goal to enroll 40 to 50 students. To their delight, those expectations were far-surpassed, with enrollments approaching 1,000 in the first two months.