Monday, November 8

A Blended Approach To Teacher Professional Learning - Warts and All.

Recently I facilitated an e-pilot project, our online portal was the Virtual Learning Network. This project involved 8 teachers, 1 face to face meeting and many on-line engagements. The focus was: How can the use of digital content assist in meeting the diverse literacy needs of our learners?
The voice thread below and the link to the project details provides further information including:
• an overview of the e-pilot project
• a summary of each teachers inquiry
• reflections from participants on : a) using digital content to meet the diverse literacy learning needs of learners b) a blended approach to PL

This information has been shared using voice-thread so that the thinking, questioning and learning can continue. Please feel free to add your comments.

Click here to view voicethread in full-screen:

Info. for Participants:

This ‘efficient’ way of working was not without its challenges.
Below I have listed some of my reflections:
• A specific focus, in this case literacy, was required so that some depth could be explored within this context.
• Blended professional learning (mix of face to face and online) was a popular professional learning option for teachers. More people volunteered to be part of this project than the resources allowed. 30 teachers wanted to be involved and only eights positions were available.
• Teacher engagement in this learning was high from the onset. They volunteered to be part of this project, they self-selected their inquiries based on the needs of their students, actions toward their inquiries were integrated into their class practice, their progress and thinking was regularly shared with the e-pilot group.
• All participants had support from their school principals and were expected to share their learning with the wider staff.
• The facilitator was very explicit from the beginning about this style of professional learning and what would be required from participants. No surprises.
• All activities, face to face and online, were aligned to the overall focus of: How can the use of digital content assist in meeting the diverse literacy needs of our learners?
• An immersion occurred during our face to face sessions so that participants could share and learn about further opportunities that existed before clarifying their own inquiry.
• The face to face session was absolutely essential in forming the relational trust required to communicate successfully online. This took two days and could have been further developed with more time together.
Teaching as Inquiry provided us with a useful framework and gave us a common language that ensured students remained at the heart of our learning.
• Reasonable, flexible however necessary expectations were communicated to the group by the facilitator via email each week.
• Participants are more likely to excuse themselves from an online session than a face to face session. There seems to be less accountability with online sessions.

What I would do differently as a facilitator?

• Involve fewer teachers and allocate more time to this project to allow for further face to face visits and individual coaching and mentoring with each member of the group. Explore the possibility of buddy systems between group members.
• Co –construct the online components of the programme and distribute responsibility for these amongst the group.
• Have clearer processes established for measuring the impact of our actions on students.
• Facilitate a further face to face hui near the end of the project to share outcomes and to discover commonalities that could guide our future practice.

Many thanks to the amazing group of teachers who participated in this project and to Helen Cooper ( MOE senior e-learning adviser) for enabling this opportunity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your reflection on 'this way of learning' really interests me as the speed of our technology advances. You say you required a blended approach with face to face being part of the blend. I am wondering:- * What you see to be the 'right' ratio or mix?
* How important is the face to face at the start of the learning and why you think this?