In this third part of the series on “Implementing online blended learning communities“, we will explore the second strategy: Using Online Blended Learning Strategies for ubiquitous community – A convenience store of Professional Development.
Allowing members to access the agenda anytime, anywhere, empowering them to think and take action when it is best for them. An Online Blended Learning Community is always available! What are your strategies for the next pandemic? Can your community carry on when the school doors close? Online Blended Learning Communities can allow for continued work and collaboration. Access to community resources, discussion forums, or collaborative spaces can be all the difference when disruptions hit. Additionally, teachers can get to what they need, when they want it, creating freedom and opportunity.
- How can Online Blended Learning Communities extend the “walls” of a school?
- How can Online Blended Learning Communities save the day in the event of a school closure?
Just as our students operate on very different schedules, so do teachers. I grew up with an educator. My mom came home, engaged my sister and I, and when we went to bed, she started working. This went very late into the night on most occasions. Contrary to what all students believe, teachers have real lives outside of the classroom. This is something that state policies and school administration too quick forget. This indifference can be alleviated with the use of online blended learning communities.
A dynamic PLC available anytime, anywhere, can empower teachers to get to important school agenda items from home, or at the park. Instead of being pushed through the same bottleneck of Brick and Mortar meetings, administrators should consider flipping the PD agenda and allowing teachers universal access to it on their own terms. This does not mean that important tasks will be incomplete or of less quality. On the contrary, when teachers are treated professionally and allowed to embrace concepts on their own time, they will most likely produce better quality engagement and fulfillment. Add to this mix the collegiality of cloud based department work and students will greatly benefit from happy teachers working at times they have selected for themselves.
Just in time support
Have you ever had to attend an emergency meeting because some administrator could not get their act together? Have you ever had to hold a meeting for your staff because the State or District forced something on you at the last minute? Just in time training and Professional Development can be a valuable tool in your arsenal and can be easily accomplished in Online Blended Learning Communities.
Delay is decay! Hosting all of your training in advance can leave teachers with gaps in their understanding when the time finally comes to apply it all in the midst of a busy school year. Allow hard working teachers to access the standards and policies they need to do their job from anywhere at any time in an online blended learning community.
Just in time support can come in a variety of forms. Professional Development does not all have to happen at one time. Additionally, new issues and circumstances are constantly popping up. Look at some of the suggestions below and consider how else you might use it.
- Student report writing instructions
- New Technology policies and uses
- District policy changes
- Goal realignment
In 2009, I was teaching at an international school in South Korea when the H1N1 epidemic hit the world. Our entire school shut down for a week and many teachers were quarantined for several more weeks. This was an International Baccalaureate school and missing three weeks was not really an option (like this is an option in any school 🙂 ). The school did not have any online or blended strategies in place and suffice it to say, everything came to a screeching stop. What if that school had already implemented a online blended learning community for teachers and students that allowed for the continued learning process? Yes, it would not be the same, but it is hard to argue with a loss of three weeks. The simple use of collaborative wikis, Google Drive, and even community spaces such as a class Facebook page would have allowed for quality learning to continue.
Stay tuned for the next installment: Strategy 3: Standardization Practices in Online blended learning communities.
This post was written by Pamoja Education Faculty Advisor John Willoughby