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,

Emily

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Emerging Trends in Today’s Libraries

Librarians lead the way in maker programs, coding, robotics, and 3D printing.


As noted in this earlier post, the roles of librarians are shifting by creating, among other things, participatory learning spaces, maker programs, and 3D printing access.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey documents these changing roles, as reflected in the following emerging trends as libraries expand services:

  • STEM maker spaces (16.8 percent)
  • Social media training (45.8 percent)
  • Wireless printing (33 percent)
  • 3D printing (2 percent)
  • Hosting hackathons (2 percent)
  • Hosting coding and application development events (2 percent)

In a ALA press release, it was noted:

Creation and making activities already are transforming what is possible for communities through libraries. At the Johnson County Library in Kansas, for instance, a library patron printed a mechanical hand for a family friend. High school student Mason Wilde loaded needed blueprints onto library computers and used the library’s 3D printer to create the necessary parts. Wilde then decided to start a nonprofit to make 3D prosthetics for other children, and he is now considering a career in the biomedical field.

“‘Creating is becoming a new digital competency, and libraries are building and expanding their programs and services to meet these changing community needs,’” said Ann Joslin, President of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies. Joslin also is the state librarian in Idaho, which currently has a pilot program underway to support library maker activities and encourage the use of new technologies and tools.

“Creating is becoming a new digital competency.”
Ann Joslin, President of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies

In the School Library Journal, read about the growth of maker spaces in Meet the Makers: Can a DIY Movement Revolutionize How We Learn?; Not Your Mama’s Library Program; and Low Tech, High Gains: Starting a Maker Program Is Easier Than You Think. These articles attest to how librarians lead students in undertaking tinkering, making, coding, and robotics in participatory learning spaces.

How is your library supporting the maker movement, coding, and robotics? What tips would you provide to someone beginning a maker movement in her library?

Running the Digital River of Learning with You,

Emily

Book “The Alliance” and Lessons for Learning Organzations

Personal branding and Tours of Duty? Can learning organizations learn lessons from the book The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, which calls for a bold, new blueprint of conducting business?

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We realize that lifetime employment in one organization is a thing of the past, especially considering the average U. S. worker median tenure in a current job to be 4.4 years, a trend which is perhaps silently influenced by the invisible “second economy.”

But, whatScreen Shot 2014-07-20 at 2.23.39 PM would happen in learning organizations if we capitalize on a bold, new blueprint of conducting business? Imagine the shift of hierarchical power play giving way to Tours of Duty, networking, and branding based on the mutual benefit of employer and employee? Those are a few founding principles found in the book The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman, co-founder and chairman of LInkedin, Ben Casnocha, entrepreneur and author, and Chris Yeh, writer and investor.

While organizations cannot innovate if everyone acts as a free agent, the authors contend there is another pattern to growth (Check out their slideshow here.): “Stop thinking of employees as families or free agents” but, rather, regard them as “allies on a Tour of Duty.” The relationship between employee and employer is based on how each can add value to the other, thus, building trust. In this symbiotic relationship, the individual, while building personal brand, focuses on the organization’s success, while the organization increases the individual’s market value.

While the authors admit that the phrase “Tour of Duty” may have military implications and it isn’t a perfect analogy, there is a shared characteristic: “honorably accomplishing a specific, finite mission…with a realistic time horizon.”

Because roles and responsibilities vary, the authors outline three Tours of Duty: Rotational; Foundational; and Transformational. (For more information on the Tours of Duty, click here.) “The tour of duty approach relieves the pressure on you [organization or business] and your employees alike because it builds trust incrementally. Everyone commits in smaller steps and the relationship deepens as each side proves itself.”

The agreement between employee and employer within each Tour of Duty sets out specific growth goals for each. One example: “Over the next 18 months you will develop excellent negotiation skills.”  (Avoiding vagueness, such as gaining “valuable experience,” is key.)

But, what is one important turnkey in this model? The authors acknowledge the benefit of honest conversation and ask a potential employee: What do you want to do once you leave employment here?

There. The elephant in the room is acknowledged and provides the basis for building the symbiotic relationship of trust and success for both parties through Tours of Duty, building value of the organization and the independent individual.

And, even when an employee leaves the organization, the value continues as networks and “know how” remain within reach of the organization, which is able to tap into the web of connections it helped the individual create. (The alumni always stay in touch.)

Wow. I wonder how this upfront frankness about career goals and schools helping their employees grow to transform an organization would pan out. While there are numerous reasons teachers leave the classroom, would these honest conversations help stem the tide of 38% of teachers quitting because of dissatisfaction with administration or the 14% who leave after one year? Are industrial-style schools and slow-moving bureaucracies ready for this truthful conversation with themselves and others, including teachers, students, and parents?

There are some transformational movements taking hold, such as the Center for Teaching Quality’s work on building a new brand of teacher leadership through teacherpreneurs, and Connected Educators Month, to strengthen teacher learning networks and the connections the authors believe valuable. But, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to incubate ideas using this new approach to acknowledge and nurture talent in the networked age? Aren’t there implications not only for teachers but students as well?

I’m game for a discussion. Are you? Interested in a book study? Let’s connect! 

Running the Digital River of Learning with You,

Emily

Always Learning from Librarians (or is it Databrarians?)

I always learn from librarians: masters of organization, jugglers of information, and searchers of the new.

As noted in the October 17, 2013 Library Journal, the Databrarian is emerging, expanding the traditional role to include new titles and responsibilities such as emerging technologies specialist, user experience designer, digital content management, digital learning librarian, and social media manager.

There is no doubt that databriarins were in full swing at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) this year at the Digital Age Library Playground. (Presenter email addresses and Twitter names are listed! So, you can reach out to them, as I have been doing.)

Sessions ranged from flipping and coding to creating Makerspaces and generating QR Codes; these databriarians were a whirl of action and learning.

The session GeniusCon asked a question of students: If you could change one thing about your school, what would *YOU* do?

Co-founders of GeniusCon Matthew Winner (@MatthewWinner) and Sherry Gick (@libraryfanatic) presented on “how kids from K to college shared their big ideas and how their genius is changing the world.” Matthew and Sherry shared their GeniusCon story – “an event in which students from around the world shared their big ideas to affect social change,” according to The Digital Shift. Wow! More schools should be doing this!

Learn more about GeniusCon in the School Library Journal article With “GeniusCon” Project, Students Connect and Problem Solve and follow their hashtag #geniuscon on Twitter.

What have you learned from librarians? Do you have a databrarian in your school?

Teacherpreneurs Mentor Edupunks: Learning Ecosystems, Geographic Imprints, and Localnomics

Note: This post is the sixth in the nine-part series Teacherpreneurs Mentor Edupunks: Convergence Reshapes Teacher Preparation for Today and the Future and written in the vein of peering into Teaching 2030. Click here to read the previous post on Surgical Learning Analytics and Learning Playlist.

Teacher preparation will expand beyond what we know today. Learning ecosystems will become more sophisticated, tying into geographic and interest-imprint dashboards, where the data “will track and manage diverse data streams from multiple agencies and institutions, offering visualizations of a region’s “educational ecosystem.” Today’s Hive Learning Network, “a community of civic and cultural institutions dedicated to transforming the learning landscape, and creating opportunities for youth to explore their interests in virtual and physical spaces,” may provide a glimpse into how teacher candidates are prepared in 2030 by weaving place-based and networked learning together. Community Connectors, another role teacherpreneurs adopt in the future, play a pivotal part in connecting students with educational opportunities in a Hive Learning Network. And, Learning Brokers, teacherpreneurs who assist families and students in investing their Educational Debit Card expenditure, which amasses federal, state, and local monies, will be the equivalent of today’s guidance counselors on cyber-connected steroids.

Already, we see districts banning together, dissolving borders, to offer blended and online learning to lower costs, including the purchase of eBooks, as well as the use of free textbooks. Overtime, there will be geographic pockets that no longer recognize city, county, or state lines as they pool their resources to bring economic stability predicated on learning opportunities for their children and future generations. However, especially in rural areas, the rise in CyberConnected earning merged with CyberConnected economic opportunity (jobs) – or localnomics – will be on the rise in 2030.

Richard Florida, senior editor at The Atlantic and director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, wrote in 1995 about the rise of the knowledge-economy and learning regions in Futures Towards the Learning Region:

The new age of capitalism holds even greater challenges for regions. The very fabric of regional organization will change, as regions gradually adopt the principles of knowledge creation and learning. Learning regions will be called on to supply the requisite human, manufacturing and technological infrastructures required to support knowledge-intensive forms of innovation and production. Rather than ushering in the ‘end of geography,’ globalization is likely to occur increasingly through complex systems of regional interdependence and integration. And, as the nation-state is squeezed between the poles of accelerating globalization and rising regional economic organization, regions will become focal points for economic, technological, political and social organization . (pp 534 – 535)

TIME magazine acknowledged the rise of localnomics in its August 20, 2012, issue, drawing attention to Florida’s prescient observation. Perhaps the geographic regions where Learning Regions and localnomics will take hold most quickly will be those areas that are “spiky,” according to Florida, where the merger of “talent, tolerance, and technology” is nurtured. Teacherpreneurs flourish in these regions for their expertise in orchestrating learning is vital to the success of the community and region.

Steve Haragon wrote the following in his post A Tail of Two Ed Tech Agendas in regards to explaining the difference between the traditional economic model, the head, and the Long Tail model, where selling less is more, popularized by Chris Anderson:

The head is very vertical, as volume is the key. The head is about scaling and scope, and success is more of the same. The tail is very horizontal, as it is about as breadth and depth, and success in the tail is differentiation, diversity, and choice. The head requires hierarchy, corporate decision-making, and control. The tail requires networking, an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and freedom. The head is about money, by which approval is conferred. The tail is about passion, and approval is less about the financial and often more about relationships and fulfillment. The head and the tail are actually very different economic models, and it turns out they may also be a powerful way to differentiate two different ed tech reform models

In 2030, teacher edupunks seek out local needs and participate in the future’s learning regions and Hive Learning Networks, while also learning with others globally. Early examples of “hive” or “hub” learning networks exist across the globe. Skillshare also serves as an early example for they “began as a way for communities to share local knowledge by teaching and taking classes on everything from programming to entrepreneurship to cooking.” Teacherpreneurs thrive in dissolved-border, CyberConnected communities, which grow along the lines of a Long Tail approach and push the creation of even more differentiated professional pathways and careers for teachers we have yet to imagine.

Perhaps it is in these “spiky” (a counter to Thomas Friedman’s “flat world”) regions of the world that Hives will first flourish, where the blending of “technology, talent, and tolerance” creates hotbeds of innovation, feeding local-to-international teacher preparation.

Spearheaded by teacherpreneurs and fueled by the Long Tail economic model, teacher preparation is not about scope-and-sequence curricula or higher ed hierarchal systems but is based on passion, freedom, networking, relationships, and the crowdsourcing of learning.

What are your thoughts? Will Learning Regions and Hive Learning Networks be the future’s hotbeds of innovation redefining the role of teacher?

Teacherpreneurs Mentor Edupunks: Surgical Learning Analytics and Learning Playlists

 Note: This post is the fourth in the nine-part series Teacherpreneurs Mentor Edupunks: Convergence Reshapes Teacher Preparation for Today and the Future and written in the vein of peering into Teaching 2030. Click here to read the previous post on the Gamification of Education.

As technology grows more sophisticated, so will the capacity for harnessing data with the targeted importance of surgical learning analytics, as Open Colleges’ Learning Analytics Infographic outlines. And, interest in learning analytics is increasing as evidenced by the doubling of registrations for the Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference between 2011 and 2012 and increased research efforts in how teachers use data to inform instruction.

However, the data gathered is only as good as the assessment. Teacher candidates must master designing appropriate and effective measures of student learning, as well as interpreting the results. Moreover, surgical learning analytics will prove even more crucial when designing customized, personalized learning experiences, let’s call them learning playlists, which tap into student interests and passions, while leveraging the best digital tools available to get the job done.

The School of One is an example of applying the backend use of surgical learning analytics – algorithms – to inform practice and teacher know-how on assessing student success, making customized, differentiated learning more engaging and relevant. Therefore, teacher candidates must have intimate knowledge of assessment, the best tools for gathering learning data, and putting the results to work.

Look for an extension on the Learning Management System design in becoming a Next Generation Learning Platform, which merges student data and teacher professional development needs, housed in the cloud, creating more relevant, personalized learning for students and teachers. The development of a Next Generation Learning Platform would be especially timely considering the projected December release of the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) and its encouraged development by the Chief State School Officers; the SLC will house student data in the cloud, making the need for understanding surgical learning analytics even more of a turnkey in teacher preparation.

Further, surgical learning analytics will expand with students using mobile devices in a variety of settings. In the Harvard Graduate School of Education course Learning Goes Lifewide: Using New Media to Connect In and Outside of School, among many topics, participants discuss how “children and young people are turning playgrounds, camps, museums, shopping malls and vacations into learning environments,” blurring lines between formal and informal learning and how “educators can conduct assessments continuously and incorporate useful feedback immediately.” Leafsnap, which “uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves,” is one example of growing experiential, place-based mobile learning beyond traditional classroom walls.

By 2030, today’s crowdsourced learning playlists, which are designed around passion and interest, such as those found at Skillshare, Mentormob, OpenStudy, and Mightybell, will become more sophisticated. And, advances in neuroscience prompt the invention of new cognitive tools that “allow educators to identify distinct cognitive pathways for individual learners, supporting increasingly customized learning experiences.”

2030 teacher edupunks, as self-directed learners, will have grown-up with the early rendition of learning playlists and have first-hand knowledge of beneficial designs, positioning them as teacherpreneurs to work in concert with for-profits or begin their own business ventures. Further, surgical learning analytics will become more sophisticated as learning ecosystems track a learner’s digital footprints, creating an information-rich, connected web of experience, skills, and learning (not education) attainment.

What are your thoughts? How will teacher preparation programs include learning playlists and learning analytics?

Teacherpreneurs Mentor Edupunks: The Gamification of Education

Note: This post is the fourth in the nine-part series Teacherpreneurs Mentor Edupunks: Convergence Reshapes Teacher Preparation for Today and the Future and written in the vein of peering into Teaching 2030. Click here to read the previous post on the growth of digital literacies.

According to New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report 2012 K-12 Edition, “Despite steady interest from educators, game-based learning has been tantalizingly just out of reach for the K-12 mainstream.” Yet, the report predicts that the time to adoption is only two to three years out.

The Gamification of Education is defined as “applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.” Although gaming in education is not new, take a look at Knewton’s Gamification of Education Infographic, video and app game development is growing, as programs such as Technovation and Youth APPLab support and spur students to become creators of their own apps, games. Programs such as iBuildApp, 3D Game Lab, GameSalad, Alice, Scratch, Gamestar Mechanic, CodeAcademy, and Globaloria (and there a many, many more) provide students the fun of creating learning games and digital stories, while digging deeper into content without having to learn a programming language. Moreover, students then publish their games, sharing them with a global audience. In turn, students can remix games created by others, making them their own.

Additionally, MIT’s Education Arcade has, for a number of years, researched the role of gaming in learning, as well as the Center for Game Science, among whose funders include the Gates Foundation and the National Science Foundation. The Institute of Play, a leader in game-based learning, has several projects underway and has designed and implemented the school Quest to Learn, which “supports a dynamic curriculum that uses the underlying design principles of games to create academically challenging, immersive, game-like learning experiences for students. Games and other forms of digital media also model the complexity and promise of “systems.” Understanding and accounting for this complexity is a fundamental literacy of the 21st century.” And, that is something that those attending the Serious Play Conference discussed.

In a move to acknowledge the effective use of games in learning, the White House appointed “gaming researcher Constance Steinkuehler as a senior policy analyst for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.” “Steinkuehler is shooting for games to address grand challenges that bridge subject areas and gaming platforms. These games will be used to improve learning in many areas of national need such as STEM education, health, education, civic engagement, the environment and other areas where individuals can gain expertise and empowerment through play and the learning that accompanies play.” In another government move, but not game related, NASA’s release of a 3D augmented reality app to understand how robotic spacecraft work portends future technical feats having an impact on designing games for learning.

While there is increased interest in gaming to improve learning, cautions do exist, such as Jenkins has noted: making certain that games meet learner outcomes and avoiding the chase to accumulate points. Justin Marquis, Ph. D., blogger at Education Unbound out of Online Universities, wrote in the post The Trouble with Gamification:

In two very significant ways educators lack the skills and knowledge to delve into a rich integration of gaming in their curriculums. For starters, most teachers have not been trained in the pedagogy of gaming in their teacher education programs. Using games in the classroom requires a rethinking of the student-teacher relationship, a new model for ownership of tasks, complex structures for support of learners, new ways of evaluating learners, and a host of technological integration issues that most teachers are not prepared to undertake.

 Additionally, teacher-training programs seldom include even a list of educationally appropriate games. Consumer games are also relatively expensive and change with such regularity that it is challenging for teachers to evaluate them to determine their efficacy in the classroom

Today’s teacher candidates should not only create digital game-based, system-learning experiences but participate in them as well, guided by teacher educators and mentor teachers. Joel Levin serves as an example of how today’s teacherpreneurs are influencing teacher preparation. A private school computer teacher from New York City, Mr. Levin, co-owner of Mindcraftedu, is working in conjunction with the creators of the blockbuster game Minecraft and a “small team of educators and programmers from the United States and Finland” to use the game for learning.

As game-based learning increases, so will the use of mobile devices in and out of school, as well as in teacher preparation programs and professional development. In the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization Working Paper Series on Mobile Learning, as part of a collaboration with the Consortium for School Networking, the state of mobile learning throughout the globe is outlined and offers examples of initiatives, as well as providing the five essential conditions for successful programs. Yet, “according to Sharon Robinson, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, …most colleges and universities in the United States and Canada do not train teachers to integrate mobile learning into their instruction, and teachers have not typically had professional development opportunities specific to mobile learning. “

With game-based learning, app development, and the use of mobile devices on the rise, traditional teacher preparation programs must incorporate these approaches immediately and embed them in their next-generation design. This emerging model of learning, championed by teacherpreneurs, will become an integral, common learning experience in preparing teachers for 2030.