Last night I participated in an engaging Twitter #tlap chat focused on professional development (PD) for teachers. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart as my position as a technology integrator is entwined with PD on a daily basis. Every time I collaborate with another teacher, I am learning. Every lesson I implement with a class, I am being observed. My job is a constant mixing of learning, teaching; failure, success.
With the advent of online learning, the ability to share ideas virtually has taken off at rocket speed. We are no longer confined to four walls and a door to learn new things. In Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros sums it up perfectly when he states, “Isolation is now a choice educators make.”
It’s true. We don’t need to wait for August PD to learn.
This summer our district launched several online professional development opportunities for teachers. Some offerings are self-paced with a start and end date only; others are teacher-paced where instructors guide participants through weekly modules. Each course provides an opportunity for teachers to learn about tools and platforms virtually, in their own time and space, and all have been favorably received by teachers.
I wanted to provide a course that took online learning a step further, making it personalized for teacher interests. Guided by resources and insights from Jarod Bormann, Jason Bretzmann, Kenny Bosch, and Barbara Bray as well as Twitter chats like #personalizedPD, #patioPD and #tlap, I decided to jump in and make my own.
My online course is titled PD4me and guides teachers in the process of using social media platforms to learn about things they want to learn in ways that fit them best. It’s nine weeks of personalized learning with sharing and reflection checkpoints scattered along the path. The course is hosted on Google Sites and uses several Google products such as Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms. We learn about three platforms (Pinterest, Twitter, and Voxer) and dive into each, discovering how to communicate, collaborate, and become self-directed, connected educators. We have unique titles for the modules such as Pin from your Den, Tweet from Your Seat, and Vox from Your Box to emphasize learning from any location. We even provide extension tasks for those participants who may already use the platforms successfully, so they aren’t bored with account setup.
As I engaged in the Twitter chat last night, I briefly mentioned my PD4me course and received dozens of inquiries about how it works. It suddenly occurred to me that I need to get better about sharing out the things I do as a technology integrator! We are better together!
The course itself is only available to teachers in our district; however, the resources below should give you an idea of the various things we do in each module if you want to create your own. We are finishing up Module 9 this week, just in time for teachers to return to the classroom and put their new learning into motion!
I would love to know your thoughts about mixing personalized learning with online courses. If you are doing something similar in your district, comment below so I can learn from you, too! You can always reach out to me on Twitter @tamaraletter if you have additional questions about the course. I’m looking forward to all the different ways we can personalize learning this year for teachers AND students!