Professional Learning is Messy

Many people say learning is messy. But is professional learning messy?

There seems to be an ongoing search by districts and teachers for the best kind of professional learning. That’s a bit like searching for the best kind of food. I appreciate the need to provide better learning opportunities but like food, there is a wide range of learning that is essential or preferred depending on the learning and the learner.

When it comes to student learning, we often hear, “hands-on” or active learning is the best. If we’re talking about professional learning, it’s similar but now we might hear about job-embedded learning as being a preferred or optimal type. Job-embedded learning is associated with results. Results are important but they aren’t the only outcomes we should be seeking in our learning. Or at least, we shouldn’t ignore that many kinds of learning occurs before results might ever be considered.

This recent  quote from Will Richardson about learning makes me think:

if learning is measured by a desire to learn more, to continue learning, then the focus is on creating the conditions for that to happen

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Those conditions are created in a variety of ways and indeed the new role … Read the rest

Encouraging Ownership

This post was last updated on 9 months ago at 9 months ago

After every course I teach I receive an evaluation from my students. Typically 80% or higher provide with highly positive feedback. 10% are indifferent and 10% are less than satisfied. Most of the dissatisfaction revolves around lack of structure and and timelines. This is partly my personal flaws and partly student preference and partly a communication failure. I take these evaluations seriously and don’t dismiss these critiques but really do try to improve. I need to get better. But….

As I try and create more ownership and agency for students, my efforts to empower them is the thing I need to really work on. How do I get my students to “own their learning”? Consider what ownership means. When you own your house, you can complain about the manufacturers of your home for its flaws but ultimately you’ll need to consider and act upon things that aren’t working. Sometimes you do it yourself, sometimes you ask for help, but either way as an owner you take action. Even if you ask for help, you are responsible they do the work and do it well.

Today I saw … Read the rest

“I Couldn’t Agree More” is Meh.

This post was last updated on July 27th, 2017 at 04:33 pm

First off, if you rarely read the comments in a blog, you ignore the fact that some of the best learning comes from those who respond and contribute additional ideas, perspectives and insights. Grant it, many spaces, like news sites and youtube are often places where civil discourse is difficult to find. But many blogs, particularly educational blogs offer some of the best places for conversation. Blogs are by nature conversational. Posts are meant to be reviewed, discusses and challenged in the same spaces.

via GIPHY

Yet, perhaps it’s the overly kind nature of many educators or a fear to engage in meaningful debate, it’s amazing how often I read a blog with some interesting ideas and the comments are filled with replies beginning with “I couldn’t agree more.” Now certainly there are many times when that’s exactly how you feel and so you post with enthusiasm the joy of finding a kindred spirit, I’m not here to criticize you if you’ve ever began a comment like that. Well, maybe a little criticism. 😉

I’m here to suggest that if you only leave those kind of comments then … Read the rest

Sustaining Digital Literacy

This post was last updated on July 9th, 2018 at 11:52 am

I’m excited to be teaching a course in a few weeks for Wilkes University called “Sustaining Digital Literacy” as part of the new EDGE offering. Essentially this is a great way to quickly get yourself up to speed with emerging technologies.

The course I’m offering focuses on a few things:

  • Finding trusted people who are doing the heavy lifting of research and implementation

This is more than about a Personal Learning Network but a more focused look at how to find people who doing interesting work and sharing it in such a way that one can not only tap into their research but also view issues from multiple perspectives. Today’s challenge is the traditional research is often difficult to find. A shift to participating and observing action research that is less formal is critical. We can’t, and don’t need to wait until the white paper is published.

  • Understanding and valuing civil discourse

Civil discourse is something I’m highly cognizant about and when it works, it’s a powerful thing. Case in point this recent discussion on Google Glass. You don’t need to know much about Glass but you … Read the rest

It’s Not Really PD

“In a nutshell, connected learning is learning that is socially connected, interest-driven, and oriented towards educational and economic opportunity. Connected learning is when you’re pursuing knowledge and expertise around something you care deeply about, and you’re supported by friends and institutions who share and recognize this common passion or purpose.” Mimo Ito

We just finished the Discovery Educator Network’s Summer Institute aka DENSI 2013. I saw a number of people calling it “the best PD” they’d ever had. I kept thinking PD is not really the right term but it’s the closest thing we have. I guess we butcher our language all the time. Using the word “awesome” to describe a great sandwich as well as the beauty of a sunset. Or the word “love” to talk about our favorite app and the relationship we have with family. I get it, and I do it all the time as well. The problem is the words may not matter much among friends who understand what we mean but to share it with those not close to us sometimes the words fail miserably.

To many teachers Professional Development is an event, something prescribed, you know, like school is to students. … Read the rest