Mullick, N (2012, April 9) Caines arcade. Video retrieved from https://youtu.be/faIFNkdq96U
The Learning Accelerator (2013, November 7) What is blended learning? Video retrieved from https://vimeo.com/78871778
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For teachers to take ownership of blended learning in their classrooms, they need be co-leaders of their own learning. This program is designed to transition leadership from the facilitator to the teachers over the course of the program.
The first two meetings have a large focus on the facilitator as the leader of the program. In these sessions it is the facilitator’s job to engage the learners and to develop the idea of blended learning amongst the learners. As the program progresses, it will become more of an open collaboration forum with a central theme for each session. The facilitator will be directing the conversations and addressing any concerns or questions. The second nine weeks of the program are devoted to building up the learners to become confident in using blended learning in their classrooms. To do this, learners will direct the conversations for the evening. At this point many other teachers should begin to feel confident enough to share ideas and help solve other’s problems. At this point the facilitator becomes more of a mentor, and even becomes part of many of the conversations.
One of the great ideas behind this PL is that the facilitator is not planned to be the only leader of the program. Early adopters of blended learning will be tasked as campus leaders to help others become more confident in the practice of blended learning. The dispersion of leadership helps all learners to become successful in blended learning.
Collaboration is a paramount component for successful PL. For our blended learning PL, we need to create an atmosphere of honest, open collaboration. People need to feel safe expressing their ideas and concerns.
In our face to face and video conference meetings, we need to focus on promoting collaboration between teachers. Goals of the PL will be focused on group-oriented tasks. Teachers will have multiple opportunities to discuss and problem-solve as well. All meetings will have a discussion component to promote the idea of collaboration.
Outside of the monthly meetings, discussion boards will be created for teachers to continue the conversation. There should be a focus on the idea that if someone runs into an issue they can post it online, and other teachers can share ideas on how to work through that issue. These posting boards will also be a place to voice concerns about blended learning. The PL facilitator will address these concerns in a productive way to help create a safe environment for meaningful conversations to take place.
One of the most important considerations we can make when developing PL is the specific needs of our audience. What is the background knowledge that our teachers are coming with? What learning style suits them best? How do we foster meaningful conversations between all of our staff? For our PL to be wildly successful, we need to ask ourselves these questions.
What background knowledge do our teachers have about blended learning?
Our educators are as diverse as our students are. Some of our teachers are master technology specialists with backgrounds in digital learning practices. Some of our teachers still use flip phones. Most of our teachers fall somewhere between these two extremes. We need to think about how we can tailor the PL experience for all of these learners.
What learning style suits our learners?
This is an important question, and I think that the answers will vary greatly. That is why I believe that we should incorporate a variety of learning experiences from collaboration to modeling to videos and to articles.
How do we foster meaningful conversations?
I think that as a district, we are doing a fantastic job of this already. I think that we can easily apply what we are already using to this new model of PL. The only addition I suggest we add is an option to communicate with other teachers easily outside of the PL environment.