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Personalized Professional Development for Online and Blended Learning

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While educators interested in online or blended learning have opportunities to learn from their colleagues and others at technology conferences, like MACUL 2018, there are other equally beneficial professional learning options available. With the growth in online or web-based professional development, workshops, webinars and other flexible learning opportunities, educators can develop their own personalized professional learning to meet their specific interests, timeline and agenda.

EdSurge (http://www.edsurge.com) provides a variety of online resources that support educator’s personalized PD. One example is from Christina Quattrocchi (Feb 17, 2015) describing how school districts can support these online learning activities drawing on a report available online (https://d3e7x39d4i7wbe.cloudfront.net/uploads/pdf/file/3/PD-Remix-EdSurge-Report-2014.pdf). This research was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation and examines the plethora of professional learning options available for educators. An outcome from this work is the PD learning cycle, which includes four cyclical steps: engage, learn, support and measure.

Rachel Langenhorst from edWeb (http://home.edweb.net/implementing-personalized-pd/)  describes a process for adopting a personalized PD program in video form. Jason Bretzmann has also written about this phenomena offering an acronym for the process Constant progress, Honor professionals, Ongoing, Individualized, Collaborative and Energizing (CHOICE) (http://leadupnow.com/personalizedpd/).

Jason Ellingson (http://edge.ascd.org/blogpost/personalized-pd) suggests educators interested in pursuing personalized PD ask the following questions as they explore this approach: what do I want to learn? How will I know if I have learned it? How does my learning support my work? What resources will I need to be successful? and How will my administrators support my learning? Heidi Zollman (https://www.edelements.com/blog/how-to-personalize-professional-development-one-districts-story) describes one school district’s efforts to implement personalized PD.

Other avenues for ongoing or continued PD focused around online or blended learning are professional learning communities (PLCs). While many educators are familiar with this concept within their professional setting, they may not have considered opportunities for professional growth within online or virtual communities. A critical element of personalized PD is its flexibility, both in when it is offered as well as different paths for learning depending on an individual’s existing interests, knowledge and skill and these online professional communities provide support for both elements.

Under the Future Ready Schools (FRS) framework is personalized professional learning that incorporates shared ownership and responsibility for PD, developing a 21st century skill set, diverse PD opportunities through technology and broad-based, participative evaluation (https://dashboard.futurereadyschools.org/framework/professional-learning). Their website includes a personalized PD self assessment for those interested in getting started.

A short list of available self-paced online professional PD includes PBS Teacherline (http://www.pbs.org/teacherline/), as well as regional ISD’s and REMC, local colleges and universities and private organizations.

In the area of online or blended learning, Michigan Virtual University offers online PD  (https://michiganvirtual.org/professionals/blended-learning/), Vanderbilt University provides a teaching guide (https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blended-and-online-learning/) with practical suggestions, while TeachHUB (http://www.teachhub.com/blended-learning-technology-classroom) offers a variety of tips and tools for blended learning. Online or virtual professional learning communities provide similar resources – edWeb, Edutopia, EDUCAUSE, etc.


: Associate Professor for the Grand Valley State University College of Education and MACUL SIG online/blended learning (OBL) steering committee member.