iLearning is a theory of learning crafted by my friend and colleague, Sean Walmsley. It is an individualized approach to technology integration that allows students to take ownership of their own learning and develop essential 21st century skills.
iLearning acknowledges the students individuality. It also acknowledges the students desire to read, access, curate, collaborate, create, and share content while using new media. Making these connections is an essential part of our current society.
After seeing the success of iLearning in the classroom, I began to wonder: what would this look like as a foundation for professional learning?
Here is my vision of Professional iLearning:
In this first stage, we invite the school community to imagine the ideal learning environment. All stakeholders come together for a dialogue about what school could and should be. We envision what student learning looks like – not just content knowledge in the core subjects, but habits of mind and dispositions as well. What do we want our students to be like as adults? What is needed to be a successful 21st century learner? From this, we create or revise a school mission statement and vision.
In the second stage, we inspire teachers to develop their own individualized professional learning plan (iPLP). Through the iPLP, teachers will have choice and voice in what and how they learn. This is the first step in helping us achieve the vision that was set in the first stage, by building a culture of learning for the entire school community. Teachers will brainstorm areas they are interested in learning more about, as well as areas of expertise that they could share with others. Teachers will set personalized goals and form action research questions to pursue. All of this will be focused on our ultimate goal: to increase student learning.
This third stage will illuminate how teachers can achieve their iPLP. It is a time to provide teachers with the support they need to maximize their personalized professional learning. This is the stage for establishing peer coaching, instructional rounds, teacher-led workshops, video reflections, and learning walks within the school. Teachers will also receive support through book studies, social media connections, online resources, and professional learning communities.
Now, teachers can take their findings from the illuminate stage and begin to innovate. This could mean adapting the curriculum to fit student needs, making global connections, or integrating technology into the classroom. It could also mean embarking on an action research study or pursuing a professional passion project. This is the stage where teachers truly take ownership of their learning.
In the final stage, it is essential that teachers share their learning both locally and globally, so that we can infiltrate the educational community and use professional learning to make a positive impact. To share with the local community, invite all stakeholders, including parents and students, to a showcase of teacher learning. It is a perfect way for teachers to model lifelong learning and show that they are continuously improving their practice. To share with the global community, teachers can post their findings on social media and blogs, or submit an article to an educational publication.
Professional iLearning will energize your school culture as teachers are given choice in their learning and a voice to share it with the community. It will also bring everyone together to accomplish a common goal: to improve student learning.