FAQs – Connected Learner Experience

Download a printable brochure about the Connected Learner Experience.

What programs do you offer?

Here at Powerful Learning Practice, we are known for taking teams of educators from around the world through a year-long connected learning journey. For teams of administrators and practitioners, we designed the Connected Learner Experience which prepares them to become connected learners and then connected educators.

And for leaders only, we created the Leading Edge Experience, which immerses participants in virtual learning environments to explore curriculum that better prepares them to lead effectively in the 21st Century. You can read more about us and our learning journey in this interview by the Connected Educators initiative.

What are Connected Learning Communities?

Traditional PD vs. CLEConventional professional learning communities (PLCs) are valuable, but alone, they are not enough. We are proposing a new model of professional development.. This new model builds on the rich research and foundational concepts of traditional professional learning communities. What’s different is how it transforms the teacher’s traditional network by building community offline and online, leveraging emerging technologies in building personal learning networks and global communities of inquiry. Meet the new model for professional development: connected learning communities, or next generation PLCs

Our proposed model advances a three-pronged approach to professional development:

In our connected learning communities’ model,  school educators will have several ways to connect and collaborate, through professional learning communities, personal learning networks, and communities of practice or inquiry. In connected learning communities, colleagues develop shared visions, common goals, and beliefs around principled change. They brainstorm and talk about creative ways to meet the needs of the 21st century learner, and they devise strategies to motivate schools to transform learning environments, thus assuring their own sustainability by becoming highly relevant in students’ lives.  It’s a model backed by extensive peer-reviewed research, as well as years of successful experience.

In these times of constantly changing, ever-increasing information, it is impossible for any individual to access, much less know, everything. Instead, knowledge, learning, and innovation can be ideally managed within virtual networks and communities and then leveraged to amplify learning for all within the connected learning community space.

Why use Connected Learning Communities as professional development?

Traditionally, teacher professional learning has focused on acquiring new knowledge and skills through passive, system-sponsored workshops delivered on in-service days. In these workshops, teachers learn new pedagogy from an outside expert and then are expected to take the learning back to their classrooms and try it out. After the workshop, when daily routines and pressures take over, and teachers have no one to help them problem solve, they go back to business as usual. Bringing new strategies from theory into individual classroom practice is even more difficult when teachers try to implement innovation and change, since traditional professional development rarely offers ways for teachers to work together through the issues that emerge in practice.

Even in schools where school leadership teams are common, teachers’ primary interactions are with family, local community, and the colleagues we work with or meet face-to-face in professional settings. These interactive communications are most often disconnected from other inputs—mass media, curriculum documents, reports, handouts from professional development workshops, or digital information found on the web. In the absence of dynamic connectedness, those inputs are more likely to serve, inadvertently, as ballast for the status quo rather than fuel for positive change.

Our proposed model of online community doesn’t replace the traditional network—it subsumes and transforms it. The connected teacher benefits from his/her traditional network and also has access to a much wider community that contains the knowledge of thousands of people, all connected to one another through technology both inside and outside the district.

What is the Connected Learner Experience like?

Our proposed professional learning model offers an unique opportunity for principals and other staff (both instructional and other) to participate in a coached, long-term, job-embedded professional development program that immerses learners in environments that allow them to learn collaboratively while co-constructing new knowledge through the sharing of strategies and tips around what’s working across the schools and district.

There will be opportunities to initiate and respond to discussions of interest, to share expertise that contributes to or draws from a more established global practice, and to develop an action research project around a need within each team’s school or the district as a whole.

Through face-to-face, synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, participants will come to a deeper understanding of the learning opportunities afforded by the use of web based technologies as coaches help community members grapple with case studies, problem based scenarios, and opportunities to co-create new content that supports their varied roles in their schools.

Each year of learning includes two, day long face-to-face workshops (a kickoff and culminating event), five 1.5-hour online sessions (webinars) paced over a school year, five self directed learning cycles, and ongoing learning and support in an online community of inquiry that is supported by a scaffolding of leadership and aligned with district/school initiatives.

What is Action Research?

Throughout the year, our team members collaboratively examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully through a process called Action research. Action research is:

  • Disciplined inquiry into a problem or possibility within the school or classroom
  • Collaborative and usually takes place in a community of practice
  • Meaningful, positive, and reflective
  • Data-driven, action-based, improvement-focused
  • Transformative

View some of our past Action Research projects.

What will I learn throughout the year?

Five learning cycles on topics from Network Literacy to Assessment will be spread out over the school year.

Learning Cycle 1: Connected Learning — Network Literacy

In this learning cycle, participants will explore a 3-pronged approach to professional learning with a special focus on how to leverage professional learning communities (PLCs), online communities of practice (CoPs), and personal learning networks (PLNs) for teacher learning. Concepts such as building a digital footprint, understanding reputation management and steps for developing a personal/professional learning network will be included. Learners will apply what they are learning directly in the classroom with their students.

Learning Cycle 2: Becoming a Connected Educator

This learning cycle immerses participants in the discovery and development of a Web 2.0 toolkit to support connected learning both in and out of the classroom. Methodologies such as blended learning, flipped classroom, and project-based learning regularly infuse connected technologies. This cycle will prepare participants to effectively recognize, incorporate, and assess immersive and connected tools as part of best practice.

Learning Cycle 3: Learning to Learn: Using Inquiry-based Strategies

In this cycle we shift our focus to becoming a learner first, educator second. We also look at inquiry driven approaches to 21st Century aligned pedagogy. We look through the lens of the 5 Cs (communication, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and crap detection) as we unpack the TPACK model, apply the Connected Learner Scale, Teaching by Design and other types of connected learning.  

Learning Cycle 4: Authentic Assessment and Scale

The focus for this cycle is authentic and formative assessment strategies. Participants explore how technology enables and transforms assessment of student learning. In addition, we examine a strength based approach and the possibilities it enables for classroom and professional feedback and facilitation. Finally, we examine different models of scale and how to apply them to our teaching, research, and leadership opportunities.

Learning Cycle 5: How to Learn Collaboratively: Collective Intelligence Building

In this cycle we’ll delve into understanding the importance of collaborative relationships in the learning process. We will look at leadership models such as distributive leadership, teacher leadership and connected leadership. We will also build participant capacity around concepts such as true collaboration, collective intelligence building and crowdsourcing as a means of constructing new learning landscapes.

Where will this take place?

St. John’s School in Houston, Texas, is the hosting organization as well as the location of our kickoff and culminating events. We are also interested in recruiting a few other hosts for this year’s communities. Interested in hosting? Find out how you could get a free team for your school or organization through hosting.

Is this program right for me?

This program is right for educators (teachers, principals, superintendents and others) who…

  • Value lifelong learning
  • Have PLNs, TPACK and Connected Learning high on their priority list
  • Want to effectively infuse technology into professional learning across their school, district, and community
  • Believe in leveraging self-directed learning and collaborative action research to inform practice
  • Want to grow a strategy around connected learning for their organization
  • Are looking for a champion-building model that can be easily replicated

Read testimonials

We have years of proven success. See what they’re saying about the Connected Learner Experience.

Apply now

Fill out this simple application to get started. We’ll be in touch shortly for an interview to see if you’d be a good fit for this learning cohort. Space is limited, so don’t hesitate!

Apply now