Last year the DDSB embarked on an ambitious shift in our technology model and with it came a huge amount of PD offered on our new G Suite platform and many other new tools that have gone with it. Every secondary teacher in the Board was offered the opportunity for introductory training and the Innovative Education team offered ongoing sessions throughout the year.
Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that face to face PD is fraught with challenges. Sessions may not be offered at convenient times or locations. It always seems that the one session you really want is falling on those days when your class also really needs you to be there. Or you are sick that day. Or we can only offer one supply code per school. Or the schedule works out and…your supply teacher doesn’t show. Or you’re there, but your mind is elsewhere, you’re not ready to learn. Or…or…or…
Our challenge this year, as a department, is to rethink how PD looks. We are about leveraging digital for new opportunities for our students, but how does that same technology offer us new opportunities for professional development?
Over the course of last year we moved many of our credit courses online, including those needed for the Early Childhood Educator iPad program and the Instructional Laptop Program for teachers. Where educators used to only have the option of attending sessions in after-school hours and PD days, we have made these courses now self-paced and on-demand. PD in your pajamas and when you need it! We are aiming to expand these offerings to more on-demand courses that are shorter, without credit, so educators have more access to the training they need, when they’re ready for it.
This year we are working to SHIFT our professional learning opportunities further by using YouTube Live to offer BYTEsizedPD. This series will consist of weekly sessions that are under 20 minutes on a variety of topics. Participants can jump in to chat and ask questions of the presenters. If the 3pm and 4pm time slots don’t work for you, the magic of recorded video makes them available at ANY time for you. Just show up a few minutes late, go ahead and rewind the video to start it when you’re ready.
Finally, we will continue to use social media to offer bits of tips and updates on what’s happening and guiding followers to resources and ideas. We encourage people to continue to seek out and build their own Professional Learning Network to embrace their own learning journey. To find the people they need, when they’re ready.
None of this is to say that face-to-face learning isn’t valuable, it most certainly is. But we recognize the challenges and obstacles that come in the way of this being our sole model. The demands on teachers professional time and personal commitments can make scheduling near impossible, but there is still a yearn and desire to continue to grow in their professional practice. We hope that we can help to fuel that growth.