Friday, July 8, 2016

Digital Age Professional Development

As a professional development provider, one of our biggest challenges is finding the time to free up teachers to participate in focused PD. Offering professional learning during the school year is difficult due to already packed agendas on district-approved professional development days. Trying to offer training after-school is of little or no value since the audience comprised of teachers and leaders who, by the way, have already worked a full day are mentally, emotionally, and/or physically exhausted. 

Dr. Mary Moen’s 2015 Dissertation from the University of Rhode Island entitled, Teachers’ Self-directed Informal Learning for Technology Integration in 1:1 Device High Schools, offers some needed insight on what might be the wave of the future for professional learning. Dr. Moen’s findings indicated that teachers are frequently engaged in informal learning activities such as searching the Internet, routinely asking their colleagues for assistance, or just practicing on their own relating to technology integration practices. These findings corroborate early returns from the Spring 2016 LoTi Digital Age Survey Results which on some campuses found a strong correlation between the Level of Teaching Innovation (i.e., digital learning) and the use of specific websites as the primary “go to” provider for ideas, inspiration, and advice related to digital learning.

As we look ahead to maximizing the benefits of professional learning in the digital age, new models need to be conceptualized and put into practice. Formal online learning courses have their place, but in the day-to-day grind of the teaching profession, solutions and strategies need to be at one’s fingertips for immediate implementation including the necessary support structures. Dr. Moen’s research sheds light on a topic that has confounded educators for years—making professional development meaningful, practical, and sustainable.