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5 Reasons continuous learning platforms are the future of PD

by Brad Spirrison, on 11/15/17 1:58 PM

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After graduating college twenty years ago, a mentor advised me that “continual and perpetual education is the key to success.”

I interpreted that advice as the following: work a few years, take an evening class or two, go to grad school and continue to subscribe to the New York Times, all while pursuing a career in my chosen profession.

As we know, a lot has changed over the last 20 years. The internet and interactive communication—for better and worse—has transformed and disrupted virtually every industry. As we now brace ourselves for a future of AI-enhanced productivity—including robots and self-driving cars—it’s quite possible that most industries as we know them today will be unrecognizable a generation from now.

In this environment, continual and perpetual education is essential.

Continuous education requires all of us to discover new ways to learn that are enabled by technology but are also driven by connections that exist in professional learning communities.

Educators who self-organize on Twitter and other social networks to share knowledge, resources and best practices with peers around the world have pioneered the continuous learning movement. Continuous learning platforms are now emerging that incorporate these always-on, community-based learning opportunities into more formal professional development programs.

Here are five reasons why continuous learning platforms are the future of professional development for educators.

1. Learning management systems (LMSs) are not designed for professional development

While professional development is a component of some LMSs, most are often designed to process administrative tasks including student registration, scheduling and curriculum delivery.

Interactions are typically contained within a school or organization, and resource availability is most often determined by administrators with limited opportunities for others to socialize and surface up new information.

No LMS is predicated on professional development, nor set up to provide collaborative learning opportunities that educators now expect and find on other outlets including Twitter Chats, Edcamps and EdTech conferences.

2. Knowledge is best transferred through professional learning communities

These days, many new skills and resources become outdated by the time they are institutionalized in top-down professional development environments. This is why so many educators are attracted to professional learning communities and networks that enable them to share ideas, best practices and new digital technologies.

Educators rely on these real-time communities of peers who have tried, failed and iterated upon the very approaches they are considering for their classrooms.

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3. Curation and discovery must exist in open environments

There are hundreds of thousands of worthy educational applications, videos and digital tools in the education sector. Educators are organically discovering these through professional learning communities, blogs, conferences and a myriad of other settings.

Unfortunately, PD programs and LMSs typically limit access to a finite list of top-down, pre-approved resources that are outdated and often uninspiring.

Continuous learning platforms have open resource discovery and curation environments that allow communities of educators to identify compelling resources, and then tag them for subject, grade level, standards and other attributes.

Here, there are no limits to what is accessible (outside of blacklisted tools that have no merit in educational settings). Communities of educators also share best practices and inform other users about current resources.

4. Accomplishments deserve to be recognized and shared

Professional development must be predicated upon learning, practice and evidence of impact on student outcomes, rather than seat time or a scan of a badge at an education conference.

Continuous learning platforms are designed to recognize and showcase how teachers are learning and sharing insight with their students through badging and a suite of credentialing opportunities.

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From interactive courses where educator output and student impact is evaluated by a community of peers, to incorporating new resources discovered during a Twitter chat or Edcamp, to creating a collection of apps, videos and websites around a current events topic, continuous learning platforms track, document and advance professional learning in all of its dynamic forms.

5. Ideas and resources must be shared globally

Professional learning communities are interconnected. While continuous learning platforms allow any school, district or organization to maintain private communities where educators share resources, ideas and interactive courses, there are always opportunities to connect with other organizations and individuals on the platform that can provide value.

In the 21st century, education must be continual, perpetual and global. Continuous learning platforms are designed to harness all of these connections to power teacher learning and classroom practice in order to achieve better student outcomes across the world.

Want to integrate continuous, community-based learning at your school, district or organization? Contact us!

Brad Spirrison is the Senior Business Development Manager at Participate. Follow him on Twitter @spirrison.

Topics:Professional developmentMicro-credentials

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About Participate

Participate creates Communities of Practice that engage and empower educators with meaningful professional development around a common purpose or goal. This blog provides resources on professional development and social learning.

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