I have had the opportunity to train many different groups of educators in the last few years in using Moodle for course design and facilitation. My approach to the design and delivery of training sessions, which was strongly developed through my experiences at Macquarie University, is to simulate the student experience. I want the teachers I train to experience Moodle in the same way that their students would be expected to so that they understand what the students might find challenging and what areas they may need to provide extra scaffolding and explanation for. The question I have had recently though is, how does this compare with other models for best practice teacher training? What characterises best practice learning design and methodology in teacher training/professional development?
When I consider the adult learning pedagogy, known as andragogy, these things come to mind: experiential learning, self-regulation, immediate outputs, collaborative/social learning, and contextual examples. When it comes to teachers, their learning is very much based on their experiences with subject matter and the context of their school, they are shaped by the culture that exists within the school and the results achieved from teaching and learning. As adult learners, teachers are very adept at self-regulating their own learning and often seek learning when there is a particular need in the context of their teaching. Teachers, however, need their learning experiences to produce immediate products and outputs, something they can implement straight away and get results/feedback on their learning. Learning becomes very collaborative within faculty groups, informal-competency groups (those with similar levels of confidence and experience in a particular area) and other wider professional bodies of colleagues. Finally, when teachers are learning about a new pedagogical strategy or technology for example, they want to see it in the reality of a context they can relate to so that they can see the value of it in their own teaching and learning.
So what is my formula for success when it comes to professional development for teachers? I don’t know for sure yet if it’s a completely winning formula but I always include the following in my Moodle training modules and workshops:
- Discussion forums – these are for open reflections and for sharing experiences and thoughts.
- Quizzes – to informally assist teachers recall what they have read and processed in their training experience and also so that they understand how a quiz operates in order to create one themselves.
- Choice – the get an indication of preferences or opinions for something.
- Embedded multimedia – to show what is possible within Moodle with the use of the HTML editor.
- Clear summaries – Moodle labels to summarise learning intent of section and guide the completion of activities.
- Stimulus images – to help teachers visually identify with the content and give a different perspective.
- Databases – to provide repositories of resources relevant to the context of the training.
- Glossary – to help explain jargon and terminology that learners may not be familiar with.
- Books – to layout and deliver larger amounts of information, with multimedia included
These are the main things I include but I’m still developing my formula and model for best practice teacher professional development and will continue my own professional development in these areas. Please feel free to offer your ideas and reflections of experiences of being the learner or the teacher/trainer 🙂