Professional Development Essentials: Remaining Flexible and Empowering Staff

Introduction

My last post provided summaries from the first half of the quarter. This post will cover my reflections on the remaining two modules I completed. First, a quick recap. I am in the second to last quarter in the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University. This quarter we’re discussing program evaluation and professional learning. In previous courses we posted our bi-weekly research based on various triggering questions. However, this quarter we’re doing more internal cohort work and compressing our thoughts into two bPortfolio posts. I appreciate the ability to be concise, but also this method requires us to connect 2-3 modules worth of questions and research which provides us the opportunity to see the related themes. The research we’ve done revolves around the ISTE Standards for Coaches. In particular, the standard four part b which focuses on professional development, program evaluation, and learning programs, “Design, develop, and implement technology- rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.”

Below you will find my triggering question for each module, relevant resources, and key takeaways I gleaned from the resources with integrated feedback from my cohort members. Finally, I conclude this post with some final thoughts.

Module 4

Triggering Question

What are examples of higher education administrators providing support for education technology development for faculty?

Resource

Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL) certification

A Framework for Educational Technology Professional Development

My key takeaway is that the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL) certification is a helpful framework for ed tech administrators to learn how to support professional development in their institution. The certification is based around three areas: first, leadership and vision; second, understanding the educational environment; and third, managing technology and support resources.

The key sections that connect with professional development are:

“4A: Plan for and coordinate ongoing, purposeful professional development” p. 7.

“4C: Empower staff to reach a proficient level to meet the ongoing demands of their jobs” p. 7.

and, as my peer, Marsha Scott, encouraged me to include:

“4F” Promote the application of technology to address the diverse needs of students and maximize student learning” p. 7. This, in particular, is helpful to remember because of the connection to the student and student learning. Professional learning for faculty should have student learning in mind–especially incorporating the diversity of students.

Module 5

Triggering Question

“What ways can universities provide their faculty with tools and professional learning to improve digital learning? Share examples.”

Resource

I met with a colleague from another university to learn about a digital learning initiative they created and are offering to faculty. This program offers faculty an opportunity to learn how to use digital tools, be mentored by peer faculty, and integrate their new skills by making adjustments in a course they teach.

Important Attributes to Ponder

  1. Provost and President involvement and support are helpful when asking professors to participate in in-depth professional learning opportunities. Further, their support financially is an incentive and can increase faculty involvement when the stipend and/or course release are significant enough. For institutions that require heavy teaching loads, attention on the latter benefit may prove the most beneficial.
  2. Standard up-to-date hardware is important. It is worth spending extra money to make sure everyone has something that is adequate to handle current tasks. For example, outfitting the community of learners with identical iPad Air 2s with adequate storage (for our current Apple iPad environment) rather than repurposing hardware which may not be standard from participant to participant.
  3. Mentor training is important. Before throwing coaches onto the playing field provide proper training and practice.
  4. Think beyond the what happens when the year-long professional development training ends. What support remains and how can we make sure faculty are not forgotten about?

Conclusion

Planning for professional development isn’t an easy task necessarily. Navigating the variety of options, meeting diverse needs of faculty, and remaining agile and flexible enough are important considerations. Yet, with the right mindset, access to helpful educational technology administer training, and a willingness to learn, professional development can be a rich experience.

Based on these two modules and the respective resources there are two key takeaways to consider.

First, “empower staff” to discover what they need in their roles and work together to create a plan that is not only sufficient to meet their needs, but also provide opportunities to learn beyond their current role–looking into the future and imagining what their job duties may require–and dream/learn together.

Second, learn from your experience and make changes as necessary. One thing that I appreciated about the conversation with my colleague who is helping lead the digital learning initiative with faculty at another university, was the idea that nothing is set in stone. The leaders are willing to try new things for the professional development learning opportunity. Often a permanent perfect plan for professional development can hinder where learning needs to go–the desires of the learners–and agile learning opportunities can provide a holistic and rich experience for the both the leader and learner. However, this isn’t meant to negate planning and training in preparation for professional development. That is still a must! Yet, the mindset is to provide flexibility and try new things. This is technology after all, and often we, as leaders, will learn more than we could even imagine during these times.

In closing, these two key points of empowering staff and remaining agile in your professional development plan are the essentials from my exploration for these final two modules.

  2 comments for “Professional Development Essentials: Remaining Flexible and Empowering Staff

  1. Marsha Scott
    March 19, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    I enjoyed reading your post over modules 4 and 5. You did a great job providing an overview of important attributes on professional learning. The two that resonated with me were mentor training for coaches and continuing to support staff after the training ends. Trying to sustain these two areas can be a challenge, but both are vital when planning for professional development. Great post! Thanks for sharing, Ryan.

  2. March 20, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Great job, Ryan! Like Marsha said, and as I noted on your last post, you do a great job of providing your readers with a comprehensive, but easy-to-read overview of our work in the program. I was especially struck by your emphasis on empowering others and being flexible. It is clear, from your work and reflections over the last two years, that these are two areas of strength for you. You do a great job of modeling how to teach others to be successful and adjusting your work in order to make changing needs. Fantastic!

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