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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To further differentiate what tools do and how they can be used, we have also classified tools in the following ways:
What You Learn
How Content is Assigned
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.