3 Learning & Development Tips for Creating Powerful Teacher PD

EdTech, Learner Experience, Learning, Learning Design

By Blake Beus

The Learning and Development (L&D) industry is built on time-tested principles of education–at least insofar as the products and services that L&D professionals and corporate trainers deliver to clients are based on empirically-validated models developed by educators and learning experts.

Indeed, one of the most critical responsibilities tasked to L&D professionals is to gather findings from educators, administrators and researchers, and then translate those findings into effective training solutions within the context of adult learning and corporate development.

Although educational research is the wellspring that nourishes the design and development of effective training solutions, what gets lost is a discussion about the ways that the L&D world can return the favor to the education sector. What, in other words, can the industry of L&D offer to educators and, in particular, the training and development of teachers at all levels of the K-12 system? Three employee onboarding best practices come to mind: blended learning, personalization and portals.

Blended Learning

The concept of blended learning has circulated for decades, although recent studies have routinely concluded that a blended approach to learning significantly enhances knowledge retention and student engagement. Defined as the use of multiple content formats combined with in-person instruction, blended learning features a combination of web-based and instructor-led training approaches within the same learning experience.

In our current cultural moment, a blended approach that leverages the educational potential of web-based technologies with the proven results of instructor-led classroom is particularly promising, because teachers are increasingly accustomed to gathering information and analyzing the world through a range of web-based and mobile devices.

Look: if your training design and delivery are not adapting to educators’ learning preferences and expectations, then it is probably missing the mark. Moreover, the growing popularity of online learning through university programs, nonprofit organizations such as EdX and private businesses such as Coursera evidences that a blended approach to education training yields promising results.

Finally, a blended approach to training educators may expand the learning life cycle as teachers can access the training content outside of traditional work hours and during times that are suitable for their schedules.

Personalization

One of the most effective approaches for increasing learner motivation and engagement is to design the curriculum so that it provides a personalized learning experience for each learner. When an educator feels as though a training session is designed with their interests in mind, and when a learner has more control over when and how they learn, then the educator is more likely to see the training session as an opportunity for growth rather than a senseless chore.

Due to the face-to-face environment of instructor-led training courses, trainers can easily incorporate personalization into the curriculum. Fortunately, personalizing courseware is also a useful technique within a blended learning approach. Courseware personalization can include allowing users to set up a profile or avatar (“Welcome back, Kris!”). It can also include enabling users to have a degree of control over what content they want to engage and when. For example, encouraging educators to customize their learning paths – within particular constraints, of course – is a powerful way to personalize the learning experience and activate learner engagement.

Portals

In addition to courseware personalization, portals and learning management systems (e.g., Canvas) are increasingly popular within K-12 education systems, and they portend considerable potential in customizing and personalizing the training sessions for educators. More than just a tool for organizing and delivering content, portals can make learning more resonant, targeted and enduring. Taking into consideration that portals vary in their technical support capacities, they nonetheless offer a rich set of sources to enrich education training by:

  • Allowing learners to set up user profiles
  • Recommending training content to learners based on profile information
  • Sending email and text reminders to learners
  • Supporting online social learning such as a message board or gamified leaderboard
  • Report user data back to the administration so that they can oversee the effectiveness of the training

Ultimately, these L&D tools and resources can help revolutionize education training beyond a stagnant one day lecture into an interactive, personalized and media-rich learning experience that significantly increases retention and learner engagement.

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Blake Beus is the Director of Learning Solutions at Allen Communication Learning Services. Follow him on Twitter: @BlakeBeus.


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