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Professional learning supporting effective digital learning

Professional Learning: Digital Learning Framework

We are chugging through our digital learning framework—we’re on the last three components! If you missed the first five, or just want to see the whole thing again, check out the introductory blog post. For now, we would like to focus on one critical aspect of our framework, professional learning. Read on to find out more about professional learning supporting effective digital learning.

Professional learning: Changes over time

Years ago, professional learning for teachers focused on click-here-do-this-type-that. We assumed that if teachers could operate the technology themselves, they would then use it with their students. Turns out, we were all wrong. When we taught teachers to use the technology themselves, they used it for their own purposes—handwritten newsletters got word processed, grade books moved from the top of the desk to a floppy disk (making it much harder for kids to peek), and transparencies turned into PowerPoint presentations (but what to do with the drawer full of plastic sheets?). Basically, teachers did exactly what we taught them to do!

Professional learning: Empowering teachers

More than 20 years later, technology is less likely to be the topic of professional development and more likely to be the delivery system. While teachers still sometimes sit in a conference center all day to receive the same PD as their colleagues, online offerings, social media, and micro-credentials are quickly putting the who, what, when, where, and how of professional learning into the hands of educators. As a result, the professional learning component of our framework has four elements that reflect this trend toward empowering educators:

  • Shared ownership and responsibility for professional growth
  • 21st century skill set
  • Diverse opportunities for professional learning
  • Broad-based, participative evaluation

Professional learning: Student goals

While there are four elements, the theme is clear: if we want students to be self-directed, we need teachers to be self-directed first. We thankfully say goodbye to rear-in-chair professional development and move toward a collaborative model where teachers and administrators work together to identify individual’s strengths and weaknesses and develop professional learning opportunities to help everyone learn to provide research-based, effective, engaging instruction for students. It goes beyond just calling any group of educators sitting at the same table a “PLC” to making meaningful changes to how professional learning takes place.

Confused about PLCs? This article from Education World has a great description of what well-implemented PLCs look like.

Professional learning: Leading the way

As leaders, this involves a re-envisioning of our role in schools. First, it involves setting an example and clear expectations for technology use and inclusion of 21st Century skills. If leaders are willing to take a risk (and sometimes fail spectacularly), teachers are more likely to take risks as well (and hopefully avoid the spectacular failure modeled by the leader). It means that evaluations are collaborative and focused on setting and achieving individual goals rather than rating a teacher as simply a success or failure. It involves helping educators accurately assess their areas of strength and weakness, and facilitating the development of an appropriate and non-judgmental professional learning plan. Finally, it means providing the resources that teachers need to achieve their goals, whether it be funding, identification of opportunities, or time to meet with like-minded colleagues.

Professional learning: Where to start

Yes, it’s easier said than done. Lucky for you, next week we’ll have some strategies for getting started! In the meantime, check out this collection of examples from EdSurge to help you start picturing professional learning in your district in new ways!

Remember that Metiri has our own personalized professional learning system and a suite of professional learning wrap-around services that we love to share! Touch base and we can talk about how Metiri can best partner with your team! If you’re interested in reading more about our take on effective professional learning, check out Cheryl Lemke’s paper commissioned by Intel.