Untapped Professional Learning Opportunities
PD — professional development — can often be a dreaded word in the world of education. Too often teachers have no choice in the training they receive. The workshops tend to be a “one-and-done” approach or a “sit and get,” with little to no concrete ties or application to their current classroom situations. Yet teachers are the models of lifelong learning, so this disconnect is disheartening.
If ever there was a need for high-quality, sustained professional development, it is now, as educators face a perfect storm of factors demanding top performance.
– State of the K-12 Market 2014
A few years ago, the Gates Foundation published a report, Teachers Know Best: Teachers’ Views on Professional Development. They found that 29% of teachers are highly satisfied with their PD offerings and 34% think PD has improved; but where does that leave the other 70% of educators? What opportunities do they have annually? That is an unsettling nonplussed majority. Not surprisingly, the research noted that teachers have little time and little funding to devote to professional learning, yet most are eager for meaningful experiences — meaningful as in relevant, collaborative, interactive, and sustained.
Teachers are constantly inundated with new programs and requirements. That’s why the best professional learning starts at the beginning — with the “why” instead of the “how.” Teachers need to understand how new digital tools connect with a broader vision of classroom instruction, and how these tools can help them make meaningful shifts in what they do.
– 3 Essential Ingredients for Making Edtech Work in the Classroom: Leadership, PD, and Ongoing Support
The digital world has many benefits for our busy teachers. Online courses are readily available and can be taken when one has the time and at one’s own pace. Plus, online platforms can be leveraged for collaboration and customization. Teachers have more “voice and choice” in seeking out original and curated content that is of interest. The multimodal experience also makes for a richer learning experience, and many courses are paired with cohorts or online communities for a more connected learning experience. And the data-rich reporting can help support annual evaluation cycle needs.
We at Wonder Workshop delved into all of this research when we first began looking at the idea of developing and designing an online course for our community of educators. We knew the framework had to go beyond product training. Many classroom teachers were asking us the “why” behind the need for computer science. Our generation didn’t grow up with these technologies, like tablets and robots in the classroom. So we took a step back, and looked at the bigger picture of 21st-century teaching and learning. Our first online course, Introduction to Coding and Robotics with Dash & Dot, in our Teach Wonder Professional Learning Program (www.teachwonder.com) is available now!
This first online course for elementary teachers includes learning theory, pedagogical strategies, room and instructional design, plus robots! There are creative activities to engage teachers and inspire them to pass along the learnings to their students. There are opportunities to reflect in FlipGrid, connecting with other Wonder Workshop educators worldwide. You can start the course at any time, and you’ll have three months to complete it. At the end of the 12-hour course, you will receive a certificate that you may be able to apply towards PD hours or CEUs. Take a look at the six two-hour modules, which make up the syllabus:
The online course plus a Dash robot is available at a deeply discounted rate through our growing list of state partners:
Lastly, do check out our archived webinar about The Need for Quality EdTech Professional Development (59:57) to learn more about how we all can continue to push for and highlight quality professional learning experiences:
Check out our other archived webinars on our YouTube channel.
We will be releasing a new online course geared towards middle school teachers this summer, which ties to our latest robot, Cue. Please do visit our Teach Wonder site, and stay tuned!