Next Generation Professional Learning

Top down, Industrial Age professional development steps aside for teacher-powered professional learning. From Twitter chats and Edcamps, teachers are empowered to differentiate their learning based on need, urgency, and passion.

Sit-and-get professional development, usually decided upon by administrators, may become a thing of the Industrial Age past. Herding educators together for one-size-fits-all professional development has been lamented by teachers for decades, as the information presented so often misses the mark of teachers’ real work.

Learning Forward’s decision to shift from Standards for Professional Development to Standards for Professional Learning, according to the organization, “signals the importance of educators taking an active role in their continuous development and places emphasis on their learning.”

And, educators are determining content, place, and time, especially as micro-credentials gain traction. No longer constrained by top-down, factory-style professional development, teachers are leading their own professional learning and on their own terms.

Sit-and-get professional development, usually decided upon by administrators, may become a thing of the Industrial Age past. 

Do It Yourself (DIY) professional learning, often fueled by connective technologies, comes in various forms, and the movement is growing. What are some models of next generation professional learning? Read On.

Connected Professional Learning: As more and more teachers direct their own professional growth, connected learning advances in importance.

  • Connected Educators Month (CEM), which networks educators worldwide, is this October. The event premiered in 2012, and now, in its fourth year, things are already gearing up to transform professional learning and bring about educational change. According to ConnectedEducators, “Never been part of an online professional community or network? Already part of a community or network, but want to be more connected?  The Connected Educator Month Starter Kit can help you on both fronts.  Written by The Connected Educator author Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Powerful Learning Practice in collaboration with the Connected Educators initiative, and loaded with helpful links and embedded videos, the kit takes a 31 days approach for this special month, giving you one simple way to get more connected every day.” Plus, in connection with CEM, Google will offer free online conferences beginning next month.
  • Learning Forward 2014 presentation Teachers Connect to Transform Our Practice and Our Profession lists over 20 online communities, from the Center for Teaching Quality Collaboratory to iEARN, teachers can tap into resources across disciplines and interests.
  • Apps expand virtual professional learning, according to “appologist” Robbie Melton, associate vice chancellor of mobilization emerging technology at the Tennessee Board of Regents. Melton offers suggestions to select apps for connected learning and don’t overlook the following:

APPitic – A directory of apps for education by Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) to help you transform teaching and learning. These apps have been tested in a variety of different grade levels, instructional strategies and classroom settings.

App-A-Pedia –  An encyclopedia of educational apps, including professional learning.

Mobile Apps MERLOT – A collection of apps to connect you with an online community.

EdcampsThe Edcamp approach, founded on the principles of connected and participatory learning, is a free unconference, where content is crowdsourced and attendees dive-in to discussions and hands-on sessions.

PLAYDATE People Learning and Asking Y: Digital Age Teacher Exploration: The PLAYDATE model bubbled-up from the brainstorming of educators who wanted something different from traditional conferences.

  • These free events have been held worldwide and the PLAYDATE starter kits are complimentary.
  • Don’t overlook one of their most powerful features: shared resources via Google Docs and Sheets. Anyone can access and anyone can add additional links, videos, books, and ideas. The resources range from technology tips and step sheets to curriculum design and pedagogical approaches.

Inquiry-based Professional Learning: Inquiry is a basic tenant in Powerful Learning Practice’s (PLP) Professional Learning Communities framework. Checkout PLP’s inquiry model in action in one school’s journey to redesign space for modern learners – Extreme Makeover Classroom Edition. And principal George Couros posed the idea in his post Inquiry Based Professional Learning, where he outlines several benefits to the approach. Also known as action research, Digital Promise puts the inquiry-based model to work. Read Serena Hicks’ take on action research in Teachers as Researchers: The Power of Mindset.

District Models: With the increase of teachers determining their own learning needs, organizations are paying attention. Check out the EdSurge guide From Pre-Fab to Personalized: How Districts are Retooling Professional Development, which provides resources and a line-up on what progressive learning organizations are undertaking to provide meaningful, personalized professional learning opportunities.

Don’t overlook staying current on next generation professional learning at Learning Forward and engage in the Twitter hashtag #redesignPD.

How are you leading your own learning? What other next generation of professional learning models do you see emerging on the educational landscape? Please share your thoughts.

Running the digital river of learning with you,