Professional development (PD) programs play an important role in school culture and the developing of staff. Successful PD opportunities require a great deal of work, analysis and management at all levels to provide educators with relevant skills and knowledge needed on the job. However, traditional PD programs are simply not enough, we need programs that encourage, engage and drive professional development for educators in meaningful and differentiated ways.
Four Ways to Maximize Professional Development
In this blog, we look at four ways to maximize professional development (PD) and how your learning management system (LMS) can help create learning opportunities for educators.
1. Personalize Teacher Learning
Professional development for teachers often looks like a one-time workshop where teachers with different expertise and experiences learn together. However, this assumes that teachers require the development of the same knowledge and skills, which is not true. High-quality PD needs to address 21st-century learning and teaching. This can be done by harnessing the power of an LMS to deliver personalized instruction.
An LMS can be used to place individual users into learning groups organized by characteristics such as date hired, department, location or job title. Membership rules within an LMS can automatically assign the appropriate learning, making sure educators are learning the skills and knowledge that applies to them (e.g., the relevant grade or area of expertise). It’s important to have PD that is tailored to individual teacher needs and developmental readiness levels so teachers can use it in practice.
2. Collect and Analyze Learner Data
A professional development program needs to be able to monitor the progress of learners and completion rates and address areas of learner engagement to ensure that vital course material is being learned. And that is what an LMS is designed to enable.
An LMS helps manage course content, assessments and interactions in a single place with a proactive mindset. Rather than pulling data from multiple spreadsheets or multiple sources, an LMS can view all the courses assigned across your organization and see real-time reports on course completion. This tool can help program administrators view detailed professional development activity by user from a dashboard, including courses assigned, completed, or pending and actively manage their enrollments.
3. Treat Educators as Active Learners
In the switch to remote and online learning, we have seen firsthand how disengaged students can be when teachers rely solely on videos and lecture-based learning. In order to combat passive learning, educators implemented a variety of innovative teaching strategies to engage students. This same concept applies to professional development. Educators need to be given opportunities to participate and become active learners. That said, professional development opportunities need to integrate engagement strategies such as workshops, reflection opportunities and hands-on learning.
An LMS can be used to support active learning and provide teachers, faculty and staff the same learning experience as students receive. Users can benefit from learning from traditional and nontraditional sources such as video, TED Talks and more.
4. Provide Opportunities for Continuous Learning
Traditionally, professional development takes place periodically; teachers listen to a presentation from experts during half days or when students aren’t at school. This episodic one-and-done approach doesn’t cut it. In order for teachers to maintain subject area knowledge for teaching in a rapidly changing world while also remaining responsive to diverse student needs, professional development needs to promote coherence and follow-through.
An LMS not only hosts and manages content but can also be used to help educators continuously engage with the material before, during and long after professional development events. This creates an ecosystem of professional development that extends beyond the workshop, beyond the textbook, and into the ongoing work that teachers are doing. This system also furthers the reach of professional development outside school through the introduction of mobile and offline content that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
Give Teachers Professional Development Tools to Succeed
School administrators and managers need to make sure that the professional development needs of staff are being met. D2L Brightspace helps give teachers, faculty and staff the next-generation tools they need to learn, develop and succeed.
Zeina Abouchacra is the EDU Content Marketing Specialist at D2L. She has worked in the higher education sector in various communications positions as well as a researcher and a teaching assistant. Specifically, teaching undergraduate-level communication university courses. Zeina is currently working towards completing her Master of Arts Communication degree at the University of Ottawa.
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