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EdSurge
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How Teachers Are Learning: Professional Development Remix

Personalized learning communities, strategies and tools for educators in the digital era

Personalized learning is on the rise for learners in our schools. Redesigned schools include personal learning plans, playlists of content tailored to fit each learner, adaptive curriculum, and access to learning anytime and anywhere. 

That's great for students but what about teachers? Where's the personalized learning, the carefully constructed playlists, the pitch-perfect material that fits their grade level and subject needs and interests? 

It's all coming. 

A new era of personalized professional development is sweeping into schools. We've created this guide to capture the extraordinary changes in PD tools and in the cycle of learning. We look here at tools that support how teachers engage with colleagues; that help teachers learn or find support for implementing fresh strategies and approaches; and that measure how that learning impacts practice in the classroom.

Even better: some teachers and schools are beginning to combine tools to brew their own personalized professional development. Some might choose a combination of Twitter, video libraries of best practice, and a social network for badging. For others, a path to personalized PD might involve in-person coaching and online courses, combined with video feedback tools.

Looking for recipes? Check out our field reports, tool box and analysis. And please share what you're doing by weighing in at the bottom of the guide. We want to hear from you. Whatever the concoction, teachers should accept no less than personalized and empowered PD.

Field Reports


Tool Box

Industry Analysis

EdSurge Reports: PD Tools

The Free EdSurge PD Report
Read about PD Tool Comparisons, Trends & Themes, and Methodology & Framework Details.

The PD Learning Cycle Framework: 28 Tools

To evaluate emerging edtech professional development tools, EdSurge created a "framework of a continuous cycle of learning."

More than 50 educators contributed to and reviewed EdSurge's Professional Development framework. Its four stages--Engage, Learn, Support and Measure--form a continuous cycle. Where in this cycle teachers begin and how they will proceed will vary. Some will get more out of one stage than another. That’s fine, too. Teachers will discover the tools that work best for them--and when those tools are most useful. It’s all about giving teachers a more personalized professional development.


Here, we evaluate and share 28 emerging and well-known tools, placing them into our continuous cycle of learning framework. We call those tools used independently by individual teachers " professional learning" products. By contrast, we categorize those that require some administrative support as "professional development" products.

You can find detailed reports using this framework and the methodology described below on each of these products by clicking on the name of the product or by searching the EdSurge site using the product name.

We hope this list and framework make it easier for educators of all stripes find the right tools for every stage of their learning process. Let us know! Weigh in in the comments section below.

Engage

These tools enable teachers to join groups, ask questions and share resources. Most tools that allow educators to engage also include a "Learn" component, such as webinars, online courses, and modules.

Free
For Teachers
Online community that connects  teachers to one another, to resources, and to free online courses about how to incorporate media creation into the classroom
Engage
Learn
Free
Free
For Teachers
A social network that connects educators and education industry professionals, enabling them to share resources and ideas through themed groups and monthly webinars
Engage
Learn
Free
Paid
For Teachers
Web-based software that allows teachers to create their own "screencasts" on professional learning topics, and share those screencasts with peers for feedback and collaboration
Engage
Paid
Freemium
For Teachers
A social network that allows educators to share resources, connect with each other, view webinars and online courses, and receive badges for their activities
Engage
Learn
Freemium
Freemium
For Teachers
Marketplace where teachers can buy, sell, request and share original lesson plans and supplemental classroom materials
Engage
Freemium

Learn

These are content-rich tools presented in a variety of ways including online courses, webinars or self-paced modules. Some of these tools also provide "Support" capabilities that help teachers implement skills and ideas.

Freemium
For Teachers
A bank of videos, online courses, and educational resources through which educators can earn continuing education credits and find tools to use in the classroom
Learn
Freemium
Freemium
For Teachers
Collection of courses, resources, and webinars created by education experts to train teachers on new techniques, Common Core methods, and hone new skills
Learn
Freemium
Paid
For Teachers
Online courses and resources that help teachers differentiate their instruction based on Universal Design principles
Engage
Learn
Paid
Free
For Teachers
Bank of training videos and resources to help teachers learn various teaching techniques compatible with Pearson products
Learn
Free
License
For Administrators
A platform that guides lesson plan and assessments creation, and connects users with experts to get answers to the questions they have
Learn
License
Paid
For Teachers
Facilitated professional development courses and online tools for instructional coaches
Learn
Paid
License
For Administrators
Gives administrators the ability to assign teachers PD videos with customized follow up questions
Learn
License
Free
For Teachers
Video library that allows teachers to view videos of expert teachers in action, share comments, and ask questions of the online community
Engage
Learn
Free
Free
For Teachers
A research tool that provides teachers with classroom strategies to differentiate for students with diverse needs
Learn
Free

Support

These tools help educators connect and share their practice with experienced mentors for feedback and coaching to improve their practice. Some tools in the "Support" category also allow teachers to also "Engage" with their peers, as well as "Measure" their learning.

License
For Administrators
Teacher development tool in which third party coaches give feedback on classroom video
Support
Measure
License
License
For Administrators
Interactive simulation where administrators control an avatar to test out and learn how to give feedback to teachers on their performance
Support
License
License
For Administrators
Third party mentors tutor new teachers through a platform that allows 1:1 tutoring, grouping with other similar educators, and special online courses
Learn
Support
License
License
For Administrators
Connects teachers to coaches via an online platform with video recordings and commenting tools
Support
License
License
For Administrators
Matches teachers with outsourced coaches who engage in a coaching relationship through video sharing and commenting platform
Support
License
Freemium
For Teachers
Lets teachers upload classroom videos & receive timestamped feedback from coaches & peers
Support
Measure
Freemium
License
For Teachers
Supports mentoring and rubric based assessments of teacher practice by letting teachers upload videos, share with peers and administrators
Support
Measure
License
License
For Administrators
Private site created for schools or districts to share video, group teachers, and share resources online
Engage
Learn
Support
License
Paid
For Administrators
Software that simulates classroom student-teacher interactions, allowing a live teacher to control a classroom of virtual students
Learn
Support
Paid

Measure

These tools are usually associated with some form of collecting data on a teacher's practice. They provide some way to measure a teacher's growth or progress in adopting new practices or acquiring new skills.

Freemium
For Administrators
Platform that supports teachers to set goals, administrators to track observation data, and connects both to auto recommendations to third party resources
Learn
Measure
Freemium
Paid
For Teachers
A software tool that trains teachers to understand and assess the common core standards for writing
Learn
Measure
Paid
License
For Administrators
Interface for managing classroom data associated with classroom walkthroughs, observations and teacher performance evaluations
Engage
Support
Measure
License
License
For Central Office Administrators
Management system that provides a catalogue of courses including videos of best practices, communities of practice, tools for observation and evaluation, and talent management
Engage
Learn
Support
Measure
License
License
For Central Office Administrators
Professional development and human resource tools for K-12 districts to build new skills and track data on professional growth
Engage
Support
Measure
License

Methodology

There are two components to the EdSurge PD framework: professional learning stages and tool classification. On the EdSurge site, each of the 28 tools listed here have been analyzed according to this framework. You can read the analysis of each of these tools by searching the EdSurge site for the individual product page for each of those products. 

Stage One: Engage

Teachers gain tremendous value from interacting with peers and colleagues--sharing challenges, successes, what works, and what doesn’t. Community support is a big part of the way teachers process and apply what they learn.

We have included “Engage” as the first stage of the professional learning cycle because often it is from conversations with colleagues that teachers identify new practices that they want to implement or solutions to problems they would like to fix.

Stage Two: Learn

New methods for teaching are being created, reimagined or revived from the past. These new methods influence instructional skills and pedagogy. Even academic content, standards, and sequence of teaching those standards is in constant flux. That’s why teachers are continually learning, and they do this by checking in with experts and taking time to learn new information and approaches.

We have included “Learn” as second in the stages because once a teacher is done processing and consulting their peers, often time the next stage is to find out what information exists outside their collegial circle.

Stage Three: Support

Mentoring, from coaches or fellow educators, is a way for teachers get support in implementing new ideas in their classroom or refining the skills they have. Coaching usually involves outside observers who look specifically at a teacher’s practice and provide feedback on how to get better.

We have included “Support“ as the third stage because once armed with support from peers and new information, teachers begin to implement new ideas in their classroom. Some teachers need more coaching and mentoring than others. Experienced teachers  might themselves become coaches as they develop more skills.

Stage Four: Measure

Measurement can be both an informal and a formal process to track growth. These activities, which most often take the forms of evaluations and observations, help the teacher assess how their learning has impacted their practice in the classroom. It also helps them determine whether they have mastered a new skill and are ready to move onto something new.

While often, measurement can be used as tools to simply assess and move on, we think it should be used as a learning tool and thus have included it in the learning process. This final stage feeds into the step a teacher will take next as they process with their community, determine new skills they’d like to master, and begin the process again.


Tool Classification

To further differentiate what tools do and how they can be used, we have also classified tools in the following ways:

What You Learn

Academic Content
Teaching strategies related to specific academic content
Instructional Skills
Skills used to deliver instruction, such as classroom management, differentiation, and questioning techniques
Pedagogy
Teaching methods and philosophies, such as socratic method, inquiry method, constructivism, and project based

How Content is Assigned

Teacher Choice
Teachers determine and have control over what they learn and how they learn
Data Driven
Use data related to a teacher or their students to assign content
Differentiated
There are different pathways for teachers to take, depending on their unique situations
Adaptive
Adjusts and personalizes recommended content for the teacher in real time

Usage Scenarios

Anytime / Anywhere
Available for use anytime and independent of a particular location
Blended
Part of learning is done online, part is done in person
Scheduled
You have to show up virtually, on the phone, or in person at a specific time

Access Method

Content Repository
A database of resources
Video Share Platform
Enables sharing and often commenting on videos that teachers upload themselves
Social Network
Enables teachers to connect with each other in online forums or groups
Video Library
A compilation of videos of teachers in action
Webinars
One-time lectures by experts in the field, with varying levels of participation by viewers
Asynchronous Modules
A series of slides, notes, or video clips leading the learner through components of a new concept or skill
Online Courses
A class outline led by an instructor and usually occurring at scheduled times

The framework and classification system is based on survey data, literature reviews, and interviews with educators and professional development experts. EdSurge surveyed more than 400 educators across the United States on their attitudes, likes, and dislikes of professional development in their schools. In addition to surveying educators, we conducted in-depth interviews with educators at all levels of districts and charter schools on the reality versus the ideal of professional development.



This research was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

EdSurge Reports: PD Tools

The Free EdSurge PD Report
Read about PD Tool Comparisons, Trends & Themes, and Methodology & Framework Details.