I am about 75% of the way through an enjoyably informative book by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall. I recently met Sheryl in the vendor exhibition at ISTE 2012 in San Diego. She introduced me to the Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) organization she and Will Richardson started to support professional development for educators. She scanned my ISTE badge and my name and contact information entered their contact database. I received an invitation shortly thereafter to participate in a free “Do It Yourself Web 2.0 Tools Course” which I accepted. Each day participants receive an email with a new “play” – today’s is Play #4 which asks us to write a blog post reflecting on what we expect to gain or learn.
My expectations are straightforward in that I am interested in the process of how PLP courses and development are run and I felt the best way to experience that was by going through it personally. I am also interested in how the various models and structures in the book might come through in a PLP course. I highly recommend that educators who are interested in modern ways of learning, leading, connecting, and collaborating, read the book. The world has changed and educators need to rethink their practice and adapt to the changes and the expectations of students and families.
“With the advent of social media, learning occurs anytime, anywhere, and students regularly pursue knowledge in networked and collaborative ways— with or without us” (The Connected Educator, Kindle 190).
If teaching continues to be one of delivering information, knowledge, and skills to students in standard and traditional ways, the practice will likely become irrelevant. It can’t be about “delivering”, it needs to be about discovery, passion, connectedness, in diverse ways and with flexible time periods. When “[i]ndividuals are pushing themselves to learn for themselves rather than be taught by someone else” (Kindle 378), the role of the teacher needs to adapt. Teachers have a lot of experience, wisdom, process expertise, support, and content knowledge to offer to their students. But, it needs to be more student driven and personalized. Just like this DIY course I’m participating in, I will get out of this what I put into it, and the resources provided by PLP are there to guide and support my learning. Learning in a Web 2.0 world provides a window to diverse sources of knowledge, experiences, and people.
What I hope to achieve from participating in this PLP course is to fill in missing knowledge and skills (no one knows everything), gain some new skills, learn from and connect with educators I don’t already know, and to understand better how professional learning at a distance feels and works as a student. I am also interested in having informed conversations in my District about whether the PLP year long program could supplement the phenomenal professional development opportunities our District creates and provides already.