Declara Shares PD Lessons From Around The World

Professional Development

Declara Shares PD Lessons From Around The World

By Nelson Gonzalez     Apr 17, 2014

Declara Shares PD Lessons From Around The World

This article is part of the collection: From Pre-Fab to Personalized: How Districts Are Retooling Professional Development.

Talent and professional development infrastructure has never been more critical. Working-age populations are exploding all over the world. Mexico is estimated to have the largest workforce in the Western Hemisphere by 2050 and the growing middle class across emerging markets is expanding opportunity and expectations for everyone.

And yet, while the need for effective training has never been greater, teachers suffer from undifferentiated professional development programs that aren’t integrated into everyday work, and are largely unrelated to immediate student learning challenges. It’s no surprise then that there is little return on investment for the $17 billion invested in teacher training and development programs in the U.S. alone, in terms of demonstrable growth in student learning.

However, Australia, Mexico, Chile and Brazil are beginning to show us what happens when innovations usually built for marketing solutions and ad-placement, are applied to talent and professional development opportunities.

How Silicon Valley Can Help

PISA rankings, industry demand for new skill sets, and the need to measure the impact of unprecedented investments in education are having three overarching effects in the global teacher training and development market:

  1. There is broad demand for elegant applications embedded in the daily challenges of the classroom, since there is little time for collaboration elsewhere. These need to help teachers level-up on skills continually, cost-effectively, and in ways that mitigate traditional teacher isolation by building social capital inside and outside the school.
  2. As teachers negotiate vast amounts of proprietary, open, and user-generated content, they are hungry for search and discovery engines that enable them to curate personalized learning experiences on-the-fly.
  3. With increasing standards-based accountability pegged to deeper learning, teacher supports must be personalized based on specific, near-real-time insights emerging from student work.

In the context of these forces, we at Declara see huge demand for teacher-facing intelligent collaboration apps, semantic search tools, and data analytic solutions. These very Silicon Valley innovations enable teacher-led innovation in ways that make often-referenced Japanese and Finish exemplars of teacher collaboration seem less exotic.

Technology solutions that integrate these features liberate teachers from content walled-gardens and take the analytic burden off their backs as they personalize learning for diverse students. We are not short on “beautiful exceptions” of teacher practice that prove we can personalize deeper learning effectively. What we need are proof points that seeming anomalies can scale across nations. Through modular, consumer-facing, and intelligent collaborative learning platforms that leverage big data, this is now happening in diverse contexts around the world.

In Australia

In Australia, global warming is decimating agriculture and the lucrative mining industry can continue to deliver current returns for no more than two decades. How to remain a vibrant Anglo-anchor of the Pacific Rim economy?

The Commonwealth government instituted one of the world’s most rigorous and innovative curricula to ensure that its students master deep learning across a globally-relevant set of disciplinary priorities. To support implementation, the Melbourne-based Education Services Australia (ESA) deployed Declara to:

  • Collect massive amounts of data and auto-tag it so that 20-years worth of content became instantly discoverable and re-combinable, using sophisticated semantic search algorithms and an agile big data platform;
  • Power Scootle Community, which enables the entire Australian teacher workforce to collaborate on the challenges they encounter when implementing the new Curriculum. Currently, teachers have organically created 515 learning communities and hundreds of thousands of content items, and spend more time collaborating on the platform than the average user spends on Facebook.

Soon, ESA’s sister institution, the Australian Institute for Teacher and School Leadership will launch a national network of Design Hubs for teachers, students, experts, and community leaders with a precise goal: iteratively generate professional practices that promote cognitive and emotional skills (in learning, not schooling). They too will use an intelligent platform to recommend content and experts to Design Hub participants, aggregate data on emerging teacher-led innovations, and surface which one are having the most demonstrable impact on student engagement.

Through these analytics on collaborative teacher innovation, the Australian government is already seeing surprising patterns of access to content and experts that differed from existing hypotheses, and our clients report that “This is the first time we’re being treated like actual knowledge workers.”

In Mexico

In Mexico, Sindicato Nacional Trabajadores de la Educacion (SNTE)—the largest union of any kind in the Hemisphere—is helping teachers level up advanced pedagogical competencies as they prepare for new national assessments instituted by the Peña Nieto Administration, which has pegged its legacy to two massive reforms in education and energy. To support collaborative learning among the country’s teachers, they deployed SINADEP--a social learning platform powered by Declara--to enable gradual roll-out of support based on these new standards to all 1.6 million union members.

Instituto Nacional para la Evaluación de la Educación (INEE), the new Mexican institution tasked with designing and implementing new assessments and evaluations for these new teacher practices, is building an agile big data ecosystem to power content discovery, user collaboration/co-creation, and personalized recommendation. With support from OECD analyses, they intentionally mapped the development of this digital infrastructure for next-generation assessments analyzed building off best practices from South Korea, Finland, and Australia.

Teach for Mexico, the fastest-growing instance for the global Teach for America spin-off, Teach for All, is also investing in adaptive, collaborative technology to enable teacher-led innovation around practices for assessments of deeper learning.

In Chile

In Chile, the former director of ed-tech investments for the InterAmerican Development Bank has created Tu Clase, Tu Pais, a Latin American-wide learning service powered by Declara that has intentionally invested in collaborative technologies to create a social ecosystem around course-taking for teachers leveling-up their practice around deeper and personalized learning. Tutors, mentors, learning communities, publishing functionality, and a badging framework are addressing many of the challenges to scaling MOOC-like technologies though a more collaborative and intelligent platform.

In Brazil

In Brazil, a movement of the most powerful education stakeholders in the country is emerging in support of a “Common Core” initiated by the states. Their early mantra: “Lead with teachers.” They too are planning on implementing collaborative learning and innovation platforms as a way to do so.

Countries across the Global South are beginning to apply these collaborative, search, and analytic technologies being developed by Declara. Here are results we are seeing so far:

  • Teacher identity is changing as they increasingly see themselves as designers of new learning experiences, rather than government functionaries
  • A focus on collective capacity and social capital is winning over hyper-individualized renderings of accountability frameworks
  • Data on student outcomes are increasingly driving personalized, near-real time, embedded professional development through personalized recommendations of most-relevant content and experts, based on student outcomes
  • Seemingly rarified collaboration practices from relatively boutique experiences in places like Japan, Singapore, or Finland can now be scaled through intelligent learning platforms across massive and growing markets

While in Silicon Valley intelligent collaboration, semantic search, and data analytics have largely been the remit of marketing solutions around ad-placement, the innovating Global South is showing us that by integrating these innovations and deploying them in cognitively-sensitive ways to adult learning, teachers can—at scale—begin to take on new professional identities, and engage in professional development driven by the realities of the ultimate consumer: the students who will inherit the most vibrant economies over the next century.

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