Designing Digital Learning Professional Development

Collaborative and experiential.
Connected to classroom practice.
Created by teachers.
Sound familiar?
These are three characteristics that teachers often state they want professional development to include. Recent studies, such as the The Center for Public Education’s Teaching the Teachers Report, show that these characteristics are consistent with effective and transformative professional development.
Fortunately, many organizations are acknowledging they need to foster the expertise of teachers and empower them to be the designers of professional development. digiLEARN, a non-profit focused on digital learning that was started by former Governor of North Carolina Bev Perdue and former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer, is focused on doing just that.
digiLEARN is dedicated to accelerating digital learning for all ages with a goal of increasing personal learning options for students and expanding instructional opportunities for teachers and instructors. In order to accomplish this goal they realize that teachers should be at the core of this work. Therefore, digiLEARN has selected 20 Digital Scholars from across the state of North Carolina to lead the way and design a plan for what digital learning professional development should look like for their educators.

Digital Scholars wrote descriptors for what they felt powerful professional development experiences should include.

“Who better to shape the work for teachers than actual expert digital educators themselves?” stated Myra Best, current Project Director of digiLEARN. All of the Digital Scholars are currently working in a school district in North Carolina. Scholars range in their backgrounds and expertise, from working 1:1 for 8 years to leading effective digital trainings for their districts.
During their first convening, the Digital Scholars started to map out and what an effective and scalable plan would look like to inform, train and support teachers in their own digital learning.
While they are still crafting their plan, there were aspects that they were all certain of:

  • PD must be useful and relevant. Meet teachers where they are in regards to their digital understanding(s).
  • Teachers want time to play and explore with the technology or too.
  • Teachers want time to share and learn from other digital experts.
  • The plan needs to address both what the learning will look like for teachers, as well as how it will translate to student learning.

The scholars also heard from other digital learning experts from across the nation, who helped by providing tips and insight from their own experiences in leading the design of digital learning professional development.
These guests included:

Over the course of the next several months, the Digital Scholars will continue to articulate their plan for digital learning. We know there are other models across the country of scalable teacher-designed professional development and would love to hear about them. Share other examples in the comments below or reach out to us directly.
Want to receive updates about the work of digiLEARN and the Digital Scholars? Follow them on Twitter @DigiLearnInst, join the conversation using #DigitalScholars and look for more posts about their work on Getting Smart.
For more, see:

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Emily Liebtag

Emily Liebtag, Ed.D., is Education Reimagined's Senior Partner for Systems Transformation. Formerly, Emily served as the Vice President of Advocacy at Getting Smart.

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