Professional learning and development opportunities can be a dilemma
Providing effective professional development opportunities for all staff can be a perplexing task at the best of times.
To begin, there’s the issue of whether PLD should be used to benefit individual staff members, or whether it should be coordinated to address a school-wide need. Then there’s the issue of finding approaches that will suit the particular needs and stages of development of staff—the old ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach simply doesn’t cut it. Finally, there’s the proverbial challenge of making the PLD investment ‘stretch’ far enough, and the fact that the best PLD is that which is sustained over time, providing opportunities for practice and reflection – rather than the old model of a single workshop here and there.
A blended learning approach provides answers…
These are not easy issues to resolve, particularly if you are looking at a PLD resource that is ‘fixed’ in terms of time and space—for instance, a specialist facilitator, or particular premises on a particular day etc. This is where a blended approach can be useful. By combining the best of face-to-face facilitation, with the benefits of well designed online opportunities, PLD can be provided for staff that is engaging, sustained, and targeting identified areas of need.
Experience using the blended learning approach with secondary schools
During 2010, a team from CORE Education worked with a group of staff from nine secondary schools in the Canterbury region to assist them in the development of in-school approaches to implementing the NZC.
The approach used a combination of face-to-face seminars, together with a series of online ‘modules’, providing access to expertise and resources that could be used by individuals or groups at a time. The online materials were used as a ‘stimulus’ for staff meetings held in the various schools, and from time-to-time, participating teachers joined together for an online ‘webinar’, where they had the opportunity to hear from and interact with ‘experts’ who had been involved in the writing of the document or in the development of supporting resources.
CORE Achieve online professional learning courses—set to go
CORE Education has recently announced the launch of its “Achieve” online courses—the first of a list of courses being developed to be made available completely online.
The intention is that individual teachers may choose to enrol for their personal development, or schools may choose to subscribe and use these courses to underpin their locally-facilitated PLD of a set period of time. For some, the idea of being able to log in and access their professional learning at a time and place that suits is very appealing. For others, the idea of working with a group in a local context is more appealing. CORE’s blended approach supports both methods, and others besides.
Check out http://www.core-ed.org/services/achieve to find out whether there’s something here to meet your needs.