Has Online PD Changed Your Teaching?

Has Online PD Changed Your Teaching?

This month marks Connected Educator Month, an initiative launched by the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education and numerous participating organizations to draw attention to online professional networks and communities of practice in education. According to recent research, a growing number of K-12 teachers (though still less than half) are turning to social-networking platforms, online courses, and virtual learning communities for professional-development opportunities.

What kinds of online platforms do you use in your professional learning? Has participating in online learning networks changed your teaching practice and your view of professional development? Could networked learning have a potentially transformative effect on teachers and schools —or is the hype overblown? How can state and school PD systems do a better job of supporting teachers’ participation in online learning communities?

Since joining online learning communities, the writing I jot down on discussion forums, blogs, and Twitter, for example, far extend my thinking beyond what's in my personal notebooks. My MiddleWeb blog, Two Teachers in the Room, keeps me connected with many educators like myself who are striving to strengthen their co-teaching practices in inclusion classrooms. I am taking charge of the kind of learning that can easily translate into best practices during my daily interactions with colleagues and students. I have learned to hear my voice, to share my voice, and to encourage others around me to share theirs. For ...

Motivated, reflective teachers may do well in a completely virtual learning environment. But I wonder: Will the average overburdened teacher be able commit the time and mental energy needed to make the most out of a virtual environment? Will some teachers expend minimal effort to satisfy requirements instead of taking the active role that is necessary for productive online learning? Can online learning be truly effective for the average teacher without some degree of face-to-face (or at least voice-to-voice) interaction? Those are questions worth thinking about in connection with inititiatives to scale up and formalize virtual learning within school PD ...

While educational literature continues to promote personalized, differentiated learning for students, teacher PD ironically remains one dimensional and is often created with very little teacher input. With the proliferation of online communities, webinars, and educational chats, school districts shouldn't have to settle for the old practice of a "sit-and-get" for their professionals. Promoting online learning communities as formalized professional development honors teachers' autonomy, professionalism, and commitment to life-long learning.

Whether you check out your twitter feed or walk down the hallway to talk to a colleague about your ideas and questions, when you open yourself and your classroom to new ideas, your students benefit greatly.

I didn't know I was unconnected until I got connected. I thought I was doing just fine, I read some education books, I had some new ideas, and I spoke to my colleagues. I thought I was connected but I really didn't know what that meant. I didn't realize that there were other ways to share, other ways to be inspired, other ways to be challenged. I didn't realize that there was a whole global community of educators who were reaching out to one another, pushing each other forward, teaching and reaching for a better way to do education.

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Teaching Ahead is inspired by the vision of teaching and learning set out in Teaching 2030, co-authored by 12 teachers and Barnett Berry. Join @teachingquality for a #CTQchat every 3rd Thursday, 8:30-9:30 p.m. ET.

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