In the past ten years, technology has changed so much in our everyday lives, and education is no exception. Yet for centuries, a core concept of education has remained the same: group learning stimulates greater learning.
In other words, we boost our knowledge by connecting with others.
Recently, four common myths associated with social learning were debunked. A fifth myth could be that social learning is just for students. Yes, social learning is revolutionizing the student experience, but it’s a powerful tool for educators as well.
Think of the positive impact on schools when teachers interact with active learners via technology. The same benefits exist with respect to professional development—yet this fact is too often overlooked. Diverse educators agree that social learning can help teachers build their skill sets, which means it is an essential part of professional development.
Peter DeWitt, an elementary school principal from Upstate New York feels that “sharing best practices is one of the most important components of any in-service or professional development session.”
Online communities may soon replace many traditional professional development sessions. Kyle Pace, an instructional technology specialist from the Lee’s Summit, MO school district says, “personal networks and crowd-sourcing on the Internet could improve on the old ways of training teachers.” Real-time, targeted online feedback is generally more efficient than multiple-hour in-person training sessions, especially considering that any given topic may not pertain to all teachers present.
“A teacher can be teaching a lesson on the Civil War,” Pace elaborates. “That lesson could bomb. He could go to his network, pose a question, ask for a resource. In the next period he could have new resources, try things immediately.” A traditional in-service professional development event can’t provide a personal network of instant, customized input.
Social media is a valuable connecting force, yet some districts may understandably be hesitant to allow teachers to use Facebook and Twitter during school hours. That’s why a new feature of Blackboard Learn allows teachers to participate in a social network across all Blackboard clients. When schools and districts enable this feature (designed with K-12 in mind), teachers then have the ability to collaborate with other teachers within their state and across the nation. This social learning tool provides a safe hub for exchanging content—and therefore enhancing the breadth and depth of student knowledge.
For more information on how the new Blackboard Learn is simply better, please join one of our “What’s New” webinars.