Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems. Educators:
4a. Dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology
4b. Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.
4c. Use collaborative tools to expand students’ authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams, and students, locally and globally.
4d. Demonstrate cultural competency when communicating with students, parents, and colleagues and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning.
Teachers as the most important factor determine students’ success in learning. As digital technology getting involved in education, teachers are facing significant changes in learning and teaching. They need to equip themselves with the latest knowledge and skills to get ongoing professional growth to adapt to the digital world. Since the traditional PD has many drawbacks which cannot satisfy every individual teacher’s needs and interests, seek more collaboration with colleagues is the key to provoke growth of the whole teachers’ needs. Digital tools make collaboration easier and wider which can provide more opportunities to create tight connections among educators to pave a creative path for students to gain the competencies for the 21st century. Moreover, at the same time, teachers can sustain their professional growth on cognition and emotion by supporting, influencing, and inspiring each other to leave the comfort zone to get ready for the future educational journey.
Integrate Social Media to get more collaboration- provoke informal PD andsave the traditional PD from the Death Valley
A failed PD experience
Our school started PD on technology integration one year ago. As the Ed tech person and the teacher for the iPad class, I was asked to lead a workshop to introduce some good iPad Apps which have potential benefits to improve students’ innovative learning. In the two hours of the workshop, I tried to give more time to teachers to pilot these Apps and ask questions. I shared some creative artifacts using these Apps which can inspire teachers to have a brainstorm on their instruction. I can see their enthusiasm and positive attitude on the transformation from technology. I thought this was a successful PD as I extended the time of discussion and brainstorm. However, after the PD, I got feedback from teachers about the obstacles and issues that occurred when they piloted these Apps with students from many different facets. Because of the limitation of time, no continually in-time support, lack of expert’s support, isolated by classrooms, they finally gave up.
The isolation is the key factor caused the failure which brings the traditional PD into a death valley: teachers cannot get ongoing support to meet individual’s needs; they cannot get in-time inspiration when they had a tough journey; they cannot get valuable advice and feedback from who has rich knowledge on different facets. We need collaboration to water the death valley to bring the PD back to the flourishing life. The effective PD is crucial to teachers’ professional growth which needs to be an integral, ongoing part of teachers lives and meet diverse interests and needs in various domains. The digital tools are powerful to make collaboration meaningful and more comprehensive that enable teachers to get worldwide perspectives and support sustainably; Teachers will not be isolated by classrooms, towns, and countries anymore. They are connected to build a robust ecosystem with a positive attitude, professional passion, and inspiration.
PLNs-Make global collaboration possible and provoke informal PD
Teaching is a creative profession which should not be set many constrainers to limit its development. PLNs are transforming PD and teachers’ mindset of PD. With PLNs, PD will change to informal learning driven by teachers without constrainer of time and location. Teachers will get empowered to hold the ownership of their PD to seek helpful resources and collaboration met individual needs and interests related to teaching and learning rather than being a passive receiver. PLNs help to flatten walls among nations to build the connection to thousands of educators from every corner of the world sharing perspectives, discussing and solving problems together. Teachers collaborating with others with the same profession and same needs through PLNs will influence each other on affective, social and cognitive aspects to gain the holistic growth of teachers’ needs. PLNs create a flexible platform through which educators can dedicate time to collaborate with others by real-time interaction or asynchronous discussions to improve teaching practice and share resources and ideas.
Edmodo-the widely used PLN with special features to provide more collaboration
Collaboration among a certain group of teachers
Extend one-shot PD by creating a collaborative group
Although the traditional PD has many drawbacks, we cannot ignore the power it brings to teachers’ professional growth. It can strength teachers’ sense of presence and be taken care of. Edmodo can help to compensate for the shortcomings of traditional PD and sustain ongoing discussion and sharing among teachers. With the Group feature, teachers can build collaboration with a certain group of teachers after the PD for exchanging perspectives, sharing obstacles and transferring energy when they attempt to implement new skills into their teaching practices without the constrainer of time. Teachers can create their digital portfolio for sharing helpful resources, implementing process and experiences in the library to contribute to help others. Through the posting notes and comments, teachers can seek or provide quick or in-time support. With creating collaborative groups, teachers will extend their communication and collaboration without limited by the form of one-shot PD. They are building PLNs while using Edmodo and strengthen connections with the group members to gain more confidence to take risks on changes and also create an active climate for a school or a district to encourage teachers to leave their comfort zone to take challenges which will potentially benefit students’ future learning for the 21st century. While these dynamic groups are getting stronger, the valuable experiences will contribute to the growth of the global healthy educational ecosystem which can light the spark of other educators’ similar journey.
Collaboration between students and teachers
In the Edmodo teachers are allowed to invite students into different classes. These classes can be divided by different topics or projects, as a space for students and teachers to work collaboratively to share ideas and resources to solve authentic problems which can motivate students’ engagement and enhance the skill of communication. With collaboration, teachers will get professional growth from learning with students through discovering and using digital resources and getting through difficulties.
Get global collaboration based on interests and needs
Edmodo provides many topics allowed teachers to follow. Teachers can choose different topics based on interests and needs to join the global collaboration and conversation to seek instant supports or light a spark of ideas from veterans. From the posts, teachers can get more relevant resources, and latest news contributed by other educators from the world. Since teachers get the freedom to choose the topic they are interested in, they will hold much enthusiasm to be immersed in further collaboration to get a bigger leap on professional growth. Everyone’s experiences and artifacts will scaffold the worldwide PLN getting stronger and broader to lead a healthy climate for every educator’s growth.
In the digital world, one teacher’s pace can never catch up the speeding of emerging technologies. So teachers need to break up isolation to build connection and collaboration with the scaffold of digital tools and strategies. For the 21st century’s educators, need to dedicate time to collaborate with colleagues to benefit the whole teachers’ needs ; learn with students collaboratively to get growth together; and build a powerful system strength teachers confidence and the sense of responsibility to take risks to explore new forms of instruction meet the needs of 21st century.
Alberth, Mursalim, Siam, Suardika, I. K., & Ino, L. (2018). Social Media as a Conduit for Teacher Professional Development in the Digital Era: Myths, Promises or Realities? TEFLIN Journal: A Publication on the Teaching and Learning of English, 29(2), 293–306. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.spu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ1186053&site=ehost-live
Trust, T. (2012). Professional Learning Networks Designed for Teacher Learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28(4), 133–138. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.spu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ972454&site=ehost-live
Requard, A. (2018, February 12). #ObserveMe: Improving Our Practice as Professionals. Retrieved from https://appsolutelyapril.com/2018/02/12/observeme-improving-our-practice-as-professionals/
Office of Educational Technology. Future Ready: Establishing a Professional Learning Ecosystem. (2016, April 05). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/TMbeqn7NlyI
Trust, T., Krutka, D., & Carpenter, J. (2016). “Together we are better”: Professional learning networks for teachers. Computers & Education, 102, 15-34. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2016.06.007