Bloomboard: Great Tool for Teacher Observations, Feedback, and Professional Growth
Bloomboard tries to attract users to it by describing the program as free. But that's not the entire story. Portions of Bloomboard are free while others are fee-based. The free option allows teachers to set goals, administrators to manage observations, and access to some professional development opportunities. To get the full benefit of the program, however, a school would need to buy into the program ($30 and up per teacher) to access premium content, more tools, and online storage at Bloomboard. In my view such fees are modest when compared to the benefit derived from personalized PD versus the mass extinction events of one-size-fits-all PD.
The goal of Bloomboard, individualized professional development for teachers, is a worthy one and the company is well on their way towards doing that. The social aspect of Bloomboard in which educators can connect with one another to share success stories and provide feedback about professional development modules holds great promise.
My personal opinion is that many school districts are not very good at performing formative and summative evaluation of teachers, nor are professional development programs well-conceived or executed. Bloomboard could help that process and school administrators and teachers should jointly investigate it as a possible addition to their PD practices.
How I Use It
Bloomboard (www.bloomboard.com) is a tool for use by teachers to develop professional learning plans and by school administrators in conducting classroom observations of teachers and providing feedback and evaluation to teachers. Bloomboard provides professional development resources for teachers to use based on their learning goals. Several states have adopted Bloomboard as part of their professional development program for K-12 educators.
Teachers start using the program by creating professional development goals and tactics to reach these goals. This step should be done collaboratively with the teacher's principal, department head, or other appropriate supervisor. Evaluation criteria (rubrics) are also created which are then linked with professional development resources available through Bloomberg.
All of this information can then be accessed and used by supervisors during classroom observations to look for evidence of how the teacher is performing in relation to these goals. A number of tools are available to supervisors including scheduling, in-class observation tools, file uploads) to document the process. Recognizing the increasing role of tablets in education, Bloomboard has released optimized web versions for iOS and Android devices. Reports can be generated indicating areas of strength and areas for growth for each teacher.
Bloomboard can handle the entire process within its web servers, which may provide an additional level of security over school email and file servers. Potential customers should press Bloomboard to fully disclose its privacy and security practices.