Assembling the heterogeneous elements for digital learning

Early steps in developing a design system/model for Professional Learning Opportunities

A big responsibility for the new team I work with is the design, implementation and revision of Professional Learning Opportunities (PLOs) for teaching staff at our current institution. The PLO term has been gifted to us as part of the restructure process/documents that created the team. It’s a term I quite like since I’ve chosen to interpret it as covering a huge range of possibilities beyond just face-to-face, synchronous, physical professional development. This is good because the team has been charged with doing something different.

This post is part of the process of coming up with something different. It links our thinking with some work being done elsewhere and is an attempt to think what else can we add. This post is also an example of the team walking the walk. i.e. if we’re aiming to help teaching staff become open and connected educators, then we need to be operating in ways that are open and connected.

Untethered Faculty Development – a starting “recipe’

A few weeks ago I stumbled across the idea of untethered faculty development from the folk at Teaching and Learning Innovations at CSU Channel Islands. It has some strong resonances with what we’d be talking about, but actually provided a concrete example. (For further inspiration it appears that they whole institution had adopted a Domain of One’s Own approach with Reclaim Hosting that was embedded within professional learning practice).

Then this week I stumbled across this 12 minute online presentation that offered some further insight into the why and how of untethered faculty development. A presentation that included an explanation of the following table of what they’ve done to untether faculty development from the constraints of synchronous and face-to-face.

This description is explained as being a “recipe” that is provided to all facilitators.

Before During After

Think invitation
An email with links & additional information for those that can’t attend. It’s a PLO in itself.

Develop resource site
Online site with all resources for the PLO.

Create dynamic agenda
Google docs where people can ask questions etc prior to the start.

Offer remote participation
Use of zoom to allow remote participation.

All materials digital

Engage remote participation

Use dynamic agenda

Collaborative notes
Can be combined with dynamic agenda. A place where participants can share their notes/thoughts.

where possible

Finalise recording

Refresh resource site
Use the collaborative notes and other discussions to improve the resource site.

Write & share blog post
All facilitators asked to write a blog post that links to the resource site.

Follow up communication
Almost a “thick conclusion” to the session

What else?

We’ve already started doing aspects of this. For example, here’s the resource site for the 2017 teaching orientation. (It’s hosted on my blog because we didn’t have a space. We have just taken ownership of a WordPress site within our institution where we’ll be starting work.)

Even this limited practice has a few additional steps in it, for example

  1. Create a short URL for each resource site.

    e.g. is the short URL for the 2017 teaching orientation. This is so people can write down a URL and find the resource site.

    With a thick invitation, this might not be needed. But then again people forget and perhaps during the session they want to visit the resource site.

  2. Add an evaluation step to after.

    e.g. the 2017 teaching orientation resource site links to the results of a simple evaluation of the session.

    I imagine the CSU-CI folk evaluate their PLOs. Absence of this step probably says more about it’s connection to the idea of untethering faculty development.

But what else could be added? What else should we do? What shouldn’t we do? These are questions being answered in this Google document by the team and anyone else who’ll want to. Feel free to add to the document.

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