What difference does our online professional development make in the longer term?
"Reflecting on the online courses, I’ve realised how much I’ve learned and how much my confidence has grown,” Rebecca Smith from Freyberg High School* commented recently.
We all complete professional development full of enthusiasm for our new projects, determined to try out our new skills.
It’s worth reflecting a year or so later on what’s changed and what has stayed the same after any professional development. How have we applied our new knowledge? What can we do now, that we couldn’t do before? What do the results show? How have our students benefitted?
Rebecca’s Livebinder, a content curation initiative for Year 13 Science – created following her participation in our online course, Curating content for digital learners – has been very positively received and well used. Her Year 13 Science folder was viewed 336 times in 2014.
As a result, Rebecca had requests from staff to create Livebinders on other topics. Rebecca’s subsequent Human Rights for Year 10 folder has been viewed 1192 times in 2014 and 2015.
The Principal, impressed with the concept of content curation, has given Rebecca greater support for weeding “the old non-fiction relics on the shelves, and disbanding our vertical file.”
Confidence grows when we try things, secure in the knowledge that if what we try isn’t wholly successful, there’s always another angle. Making mistakes are essential in our learning.
Rebecca’s project from another course ‘to connect the wide variety of readers at Freyberg High School in a digital book club’ using Facebook, has been put aside for later reconsideration, as a result of apparent lack of student interest. Staff hours have been re-directed for the moment to improving access to the library collections.
The ‘action learning’, student-centred, reflective and evidence-based approaches encouraged in our courses have given Rebecca agency to take increased initiative in her school library. Rebecca has the confidence to persevere and evaluate new approaches.
*Freyberg High School is a decile 5, state coeducational secondary school in Palmerston North, with 1400 students from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Image: Rebecca working with a group of Freyberg High School students. Image used with permission.