What makes professional development experience valuable? How can we build meaningful personal learning networks? What is the right balance between planning and incidental discovery in professional learning? On Tuesday, May 22, the #DLNchat community came together to share thoughts, ideas and professional development plans for summer 2018 and beyond.
We started the conversation by diving straight into what makes a professional development experience valuable. From the outset, the words “practical” and “applicable” began to resonate throughout the #DLNchat community. Chatters wanted new knowledge that they could quickly apply at work (or home). What was contestant Jennifer Rafferty looking for? Mainly, “Immediate application in the workplace,” she said. “I like being able to apply my new knowledge as soon as possible. Also connecting with others in my field. Expanding my personal learning network. This idea of social learning also came up a lot. Emma Zone said of that way, “PD needs to be relevant and relational. My favorite PD is being with a community of peers and experts. Just like we do here at #DLNchat.”
So how do #DLNchat community members learn from each other and create larger and more meaningful personal learning networks? Bethany Bovard tries to “look for people with different points of view and I prefer PLNs that encourage active listening and thoughtful debate of ideas”. Blake Harvard described his ideal PLN this way: “Some like-minded people, some disagree, but everyone aims to be better and better understand education and life. ‘education.” Zone said, “A PLN should be engaging. I want people who challenge me and encourage me. I also think it’s important to find people with different experiences.
Diversity is important. As EdSurge’s Renee Franzwa reminded us, we need to make sure we venture beyond potential echo chambers, especially when the goal is to serve a diversity of students. The learning community must then strive to create psychological safety and civic discourse. “It’s in those somewhat uncomfortable times that I find growth happens the most,” Cali Morrison said. She also advised people to “don’t be afraid to participate in conversations – both digital (via Twitter) or [face to face]. I’ve made some of my strongest #PLN connections through cyberbullying conferences I don’t attend.
Cyberbullying may not be the new trend in professional development pursuits, but chatterboxes agreed that non-traditional growth opportunities have become the most valuable. #DLNchat he himself got a lot of love, as well as Loop, EdSurge’s networking experience for digital learning professionals. In addition to non-traditional professional development, chatters recommended embracing the unexpected. As Alex Kluge said, “Be open to the unexpected – cultivate lead sources for interesting material. Don’t dismiss things because they don’t meet your expectations. That’s not what expected, this should be viewed as a learning opportunity. This can be challenging, particularly when we are focused on a specific outcome or pursuit. Bovard recommended: “Allow space/time to be “open” to opportunities beyond the immediate goal and focus a bit more on process-oriented professional development as well as product-oriented.
The process-oriented approach should include thinking, doing, and thinking again. Bovard calls it a spiral. Anibal Pacheco recommends this process: “Find out what is causing you problems first, then identify possible solutions. If you fail, look for lessons learned. Finally, whenever possible, don’t let challenges become barriers to personal growth. Several chatterboxes suggested a process that includes passing on lessons learned to students and colleagues. Another important tip: have fun! As Ryan Straight said, “Nowhere does it say that professional development has to be stuffy or all work. We love what we do and we should love learning how to do it better.
What are your professional development plans for summer 2018 and beyond? Tweet our community with #DLNchat to build new professional relationships! You can also RSVP for our next chat: How can digital learning help improve college affordability? Tuesday, June 12 at 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET for early reminders. For other topics, see our index of past discussions. #DLNchat is co-hosted by Online Learning Consortium, WCET and Tyton Partners.