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“Professional learning will become more personalized with educators creating opportunities that they need through networking, collaboration, and relying more on colleagues rather than external experts.” – Deb Delisle, President and CEO of Alliance for Excellent Education

What is the future of professional learning? In a blog post published last year, we posed this question to three leaders. What emerged was the need to be personal, flexible, and open to new ways of delivery.  What are some ways we can personalize professional learning for educators and leaders in the MENA region?  In this article we will share some models and resources to consider and explore as you launch into the new academic year.

Every August the school year for teachers starts out the same way, with an intensive “welcome week” of professional learning that consists of a speaker, PowerPoint, and a full staff listening idly for several hours. With the increase in demand on schools to push student performance to meet international expectations, this may rarely leave time for follow-up throughout the school year. So how do schools keep up with teaching, curriculum pacing, as well as meeting the development needs of a diverse staff? Ever consider Flipped Professional Learning (PL)? Similar to Flipped Class, this method will allow schools to differentiate, customize and innovate professional development with easy follow-up.

Flipped PL can be designed very simply using pre-developed tools from Teaching Channel, TeacherTube, Khan Academy or other resources. These websites offer videos on several topics that cover teaching strategies, subject specific content, and other material, with most offering video transcripts, discussion topics, and/or comprehension questions. Using a school-wide platform such as Edmodo or Google Classroom, videos can be posted with comprehension questions or an online quiz to check understanding. Discussion can take place online or in department meetings with skill specific observation to follow. If transcripts are available, they can be translated to ensure all staff are able to participate in PL.

For the more advanced and adventurous in developing PL, videos can be designed using iMovie (for Mac users), Movie Maker (PC users), Adobe Premier Elements, or Lectora. Videos can be made from pre-recorded teacher lessons showing best practices or imbedded from Teaching Channel and other resources. Comprehension questions or a quiz should also be included to check understanding with discussion taking place online or during meetings.

The platform used to implement Flipped PL should be one that has a management option which can be monitored by school leaders. Edmodo and Google Classroom work well as they both allow groups to be created to differentiate PL topics and departments, in addition to allow members to interact with each other through chat and let group admin create quizzes and monitor activity.

Using Flipped PL will create 21st Century professional learning that is easy to create, track, and improve teaching and learning in schools.  

While personalized learning has increased for students, the same should be for educators when it comes to professional learning.  One pathway is micro-credentials. This digital certification allows for voice and choice based on interest of the learner who work towards demonstrating competence in a specific skill. Micro-credentials offer a way for schools to both recognize the existing skills of teachers and administrators. In this digital form of certification, educators and leaders learn by doing. They can be earned as a digital badge or bundled into courses that may be eligible for your licensure renewal.  A micro-credential is a badge that represents the skills that the teacher or administrator has been proven to possess.

So how do micro-credentials work? Educators review requirements and select the micro-credential they would like to earn. This is usually based on needs and interests. Next, educators engage in their learning and put it into practice. While learning, the educator may ask questions, access available resources, and receive feedback and coaching. Evidence of their competence will be gathered and submitted to a trained assessor. The assessor will evaluate the evidence shared from the educator. Samples of evidence could be a classroom observation, student work, lesson plan, audio or video from the classroom, or reflections from student or teachers.  Once the micro-credential is earned, a digital badge will be awarded.

The following organizations are focused on providing micro-credentials to educators.

Digital Promise  https://digitalpromise.org/initiative/educator-micro-credentials/

Bloomboard  https://bloomboard.com/what-are-microcredentials/

MISIC. http://misiciowa.org

Edraak: Edraak, https://www.edraak.org/en/

Learn more at:

ASCD Webinars: http://www.ascd.org/professional-development/webinar

The Teacher’s Guild: www.teachersguild.org

By: Rashenah Walker, Ashley Green and Kevin Simpson

Rashenah Walker

Rashenah Walker

Manager of Learning

Rashenah Walker is an international curriculum specialist and educational trainer. She holds a Master’s degree in Education majoring in Instructional Technology and is a dual major Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum Design. Rashenah began her career in the United States as special education and Advanced Placement teacher. Since then, she has worked in the areas of curriculum design, educational administration, organizational needs analysis, and teacher development.

Kevin Simpson

Managing Director

KDSL Global is an education consulting company launched by Kevin Simpson in 2016 in the USA and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Simpson and his team have served thousands of schools, organizations, educators, and leaders worldwide in over 20 countries. The majority of this work in education has centred on American curriculum schools. Since 2008, Simpson has been focused on education in the MENA region, assisted numerous schools with accreditation, training, development, and served as a thought partner to investors on school start-up projects.  Simpson is co-founder of the UAE Learning Network (one of the largest online network of educators in the UAE) and leads the GCC ASCD Connected Community.

Ashley Green

Senior Associate

Ashley Green’s passion for global education has led to her teaching in classrooms and collaborating with teachers from all over the world. Her desire to become a global educator began when she taught students in England, and had the chance to make connections between the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program and Common Core standards. Since then, she’s honed those skills in Dubai; in both Elementary and Middle school settings as a full-time classroom practitioner.