A transformative idea in the preparation and professional learning of educators and education leaders is to leverage technology to create career-long personal learning networks within and across schools, pre-service preparation and in-service educational institutions, and professional organizations. The goal of these career-long personal learning networks would be to make professional learning timely and relevant as well as an ongoing activity that continually improves practices. These networks and other resources would enable educators to take online courses, tap into experts and best practices for just-in-time learning and problem solving, and provide platforms and tools for educators to design and develop resources and share them with their colleagues.
As we move into an era when colleges of education will be held accountable for the effectiveness of their graduates, colleges of education can use personal learning networks to provide ongoing support once their graduates enter the workforce.
An example of this is TFA.net, a website provided by Teach for America for all its new educators. TFA.net offers valuable resources for educators and opportunities for TFA teachers to connect and share ideas. This resource exchange also allows TFA teachers and alumni to share, rate, and download successful lesson and unit plans, data tracking tools, and classroom management strategies.
One barrier to using technology in these ways for ongoing professional learning for educators is the use of time-based measures of attainment rather than competency-based measures. Strictly time-based measures do not allow professional educators to take advantage of the many new opportunities that online learning offers by being able to transcend time and space.
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