I am probably not alone in feeling very challenged when it comes to meaningful, sustainable, and ready-to-use professional development. Schools generally seem to be far behind the curve. So much to do and learn, yet so little time. I once had a supervisor who always said, "It's an educators professional obligation to continue to learn and develop professionally." I do agree with this statement, but know there are obstacles in the way - most notably TIME.
What should professional development look like? Do we REALLY know what our staffs need? Are the needs aligned to the goals of the school and the district? Where do we find time for all of this?
There's a big push for online and blended learning. I do believe that these models can work when well facilitated, when there is active participation, and when this model of learning is properly modeled. The pedagogical shift is huge.
Learning management systems (LMS) are really on the rise - a very hot market right now. This was once dominated by Blackboard, but they seem to be losing traction in this changing market. My wife is completing an online Master's program from National University. The fact the program is online has really helped fit into her lifestyle, however, the overall experience could have been more positive. For example, the few times when a synchronous meeting was to take place online, Blackboard did not "play" well with the Mac computers. Not everybody engaged in the discussion boards. And the list goes on.
My district uses Canvas LMS for some professional development we offer. I was introduced to Canvas through San Diego County Office of Education and was hooked. It's scalability, interface with tools such a Google Apps, Twitter, and Facebook are awesome. It has an online speed grader that really cuts down on paper and it's mobile app is awesome on a tablet. Do I see this being the wave of the future? Only time will tell. I do think it's an amazing product and quite frankly, could work very well with credit recovery programs in order to have your "home grown" courses available, not third-party vendor curriculum that staff isn't necessarily familiar with.
Oh well, this blog post is all over the map. What a brain dump. Did it accomplish anything? Probably not, but my head feels a bit more clear.
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