Professional Learning in the Digital Age
There has been a significant change in professional development since the pandemic has impacted school communities across the globe. Professional learning ensures that educators continue to strengthen teacher practice throughout their career. By engaging in reflective practice, accessing new knowledge and skills, and collaborating with others, educators continue to improve so they can help students achieve.
In the past, professional development tended to be a whole school focus, delivered face-to-face, to meet the educational goals of the school improvement plan. Since the pandemic, differentiated support for teachers has emerged and delivered in different ways to meet needs of educators.
The most effective professional learning engages teams of teachers to focus on the specific needs of their students. They learn and problem solve together in order to ensure all students achieve success. This can be done collaboratively through online platforms such as Zoom and digital sharing platforms. Online formats allow teachers to work together at their own pace and interact with their peers to focus on improving student learning.
Since the pandemic, professional learning has become more individualised, customised and digital. Educators are becoming focussed on what they learn, how they learn and where and when they learn. School closures have provided this collaborative learning and work time for teachers. School leaders are supporting multiple formats for engaging with colleagues through the increasing availability and use of digital technology.
Differentiated support for professional learning can be accessed through digital learning. Instead of actual meetings, workshops and conferences, educational content is increasingly available online through webinars, virtual events, tutorials and teacher networks.
Online professional learning can be useful for accessing rich educational content, tutorials and observing video demonstrations of effective teaching practices in multiple settings.
Videos of lessons on virtual meeting platforms give educators real examples for problem solving, reflection and professional growth.
On Demand programs provide access to self-paced learning and instructional practices without leaving home or the workplace.
Online instructional services, forums and support provide interactive, real-time discussion among participants supported by an expert.
Collaboration tools used across professional learning team support real engagement, reflection and targeted support for students.
When educators learn, students learn more. This supports a cycle of continuous professional growth for educators – either face-to-face or virtually. Throughout their careers, teachers and leaders should continually engage in professional learning deliberately and purposefully to develop the knowledge and skills to continue to improve so they can help students achieve.