Professional Development Planning for Summer 2018 and Beyond #DLNchat

Digital Learning

Professional Development Planning for Summer 2018 and Beyond #DLNchat

By Michael Sano     May 24, 2018

Professional Development Planning for Summer 2018 and Beyond #DLNchat

What makes a professional development experience valuable? How can we build meaningful personal learning networks? What’s the right balance of planning and serendipitous discovery when it comes to professional learning? On Tuesday, May 22 the #DLNchat community got together to share professional development reflections, insights and plans for Summer 2018 and beyond.

We started the chat by diving right into what makes a professional development experience valuable. Right off the bat the words “practical” and “applicable” began echoing across the #DLNchat community. Chatters wanted new knowledge they can quickly apply at work (or home). What was participant Jennifer Rafferty looking for? Mainly, “Immediate application in the workplace,” she said. “I love being able to apply my new knowledge asap. Also connecting with others in my field. Widening my personal learning network.” This idea of social learning came up a lot as well. Emma Zone put it this way, “PD has to be relevant & relational. My favorite PD is ongoing with a community of peers and experts. Much like we do here at #DLNchat.”

So, how do #DLNchat community members learn from one another and build wider and more meaningful personal learning networks? Bethany Bovard tries to “seek out folks whose perspectives are different and I prefer PLNs that encourage active listening & considerate debate of ideas.” Blake Harvard described his ideal PLN this way, “Some like-minded folks, some that disagree, but everyone has a goal of being better and understanding more about education and teaching.” Zone said, “A PLN has to be engaging. I want people who challenge me and encourage me. I also think it's important to find people with different experiences.”

Diversity is important. As EdSurge’s Renee Franzwa reminded us, we need to ensure we venture past potential echo chambers, particularly when the goal is to serve a diversity of students. The learning community then has to strive to create psychological safety and civic discourse. “It's in those somewhat uncomfortable moments where I find the most growth happening,” shared Cali Morrison. She also advised folks to be “fearless about butting into conversations - both digital (via twitter) or [face to face]. I have made some of my strongest #PLN connections by cyberstalking conferences I'm not attending.”

Cyberstalking may not become the newest trend in professional development pursuits, but chatters agreed that non-traditional opportunities for growth have become the most valuable. #DLNchat itself got quite a bit of love, as well as Loop, EdSurge’s experiment in networking for digital learning professionals. In addition to untraditional professional development, chatters recommended embracing the unexpected. As Alex Kluge said, “Be open to the unexpected– cultivate sources of leads for interesting materials. Don't reject things because they aren't what you expect. That's not what I expected, should be seen as a learning opportunity.” That can be challenging, particularly when we are focused on a specific outcome or pursuit. Bovard recommended, “Build in space/time to be 'open' to opportunities beyond the immediate goal and focus a bit more on process-oriented as well as product-oriented professional development.”

The process-oriented approach should include reflection, action and reflection again. Bovard calls it a spiral. Anibal Pacheco recommends this process, “First determine what challenges you, then identify possible solutions. If you fail, search for lessons learned. Finally, if at all possible do not let challenges become obstacles for personal growth.” Several chatters suggested a process that includes bringing lessons learned back to students and colleagues. Another piece of important advice–have fun! As Ryan Straight said, “Nowhere does it say that professional development must be stuffy or all work. We love what we do and we should enjoy learning to do it better.”

What are your professional development plans for Summer 2018 and beyond? Tweet our community with #DLNchat to make some new professional connections! You can also RSVP for our next chat: How Can Digital Learning Help Improve College Affordability? on Tuesday, June 12 at 1pm PT/ 4pm ET to get reminders beforehand.For other topics, check out our index of past chats. #DLNchat is co-hosted by the Online Learning Consortium, WCET and Tyton Partners.

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