Many schools attempted to recreate the traditional classroom online last year but found it difficult. Nowadays among students are popular some online sources where you can write just “pay someone to do my homework” and get help. In creating virtual professional learning, we can draw lessons from this experience. When you think about hosting virtual gatherings don’t assume that your activity will be the same as the gathering’s purpose. When planning virtual gatherings, it is important to ask yourself the following question: “What purpose do we have now?”
Virtual gatherings will likely be around for the foreseeable future. While we will be able to interact more in person, there will still be some virtual learning. This is due to accessibility, safety precautions, and convenience. We should make sure that we are making the most of these virtual learning opportunities.
These questions will help you understand the purpose of professional learning.
* What outcome do you want?
* Who is it for?
* What are you hoping educators will take away from our time together?
* What do you think educators should feel?
* What are the roles of the facilitators and participants?
This year, we converted most of our face-to-face professional education to virtual formats and have learned a lot. The virtual learning environment allowed us to connect with others and gain deep learning. These are our top strategies for reimagining professional learning. All these strategies offer options and choices that allow participants to learn in a variety of ways while still engaging them in meaningful learning experiences.
6 Ways To Increase Virtual Professional Learning
1. Celebrate what is working:
Begin the session by singing “Tell me something positive!” Chaka Khan’s voice on the song is great, but the message and impact of that song are more important. It is easy to get caught up in what isn’t working and focus on the negatives, rather than what is working. People freeze when they don’t know how to focus on what’s working or revert to the challenge. Knowing the benefits, I encourage everyone to concentrate on success, growth, or positive moment, and then share it with the group or in small groups, if they have the time.
2. Breakout rooms should be optional:
Many people attend virtual gatherings in places that aren’t ideal for sharing. And then, boom! breakout rooms. We both have been to sessions where our dogs screamed in the background, or we tried to support our children.
When everyone has the right technology and a place to learn, breakout rooms can provide an incredible opportunity to connect. We must remember that our purpose is to build connections and collaboration. You don’t have to go into a breakout room to do that. There are some people who have barriers that make it difficult to connect in breakout rooms. If they don’t want to log out, we can offer other options such as remaining in the lobby, participating in a chat, or quietly writing notes to share with the group at the end.
3. You can get your groove on!:
Not everyone has the chance to be a professional DJ. Ask participants to share their songs before a session. You can use any song, any language, and any decade. You can play different songs as you move between sections. You should remind everyone that not everyone will enjoy the music.
People who have more sensitive hearing can enjoy a calm transition while the rest of us rock out. You can also set a timer to run for two minutes whenever you ask a question and invite everyone to join the chat alert. Everyone can use the chat alert to share their thoughts using words, emojis, or both in the chatbox, Jamboard, or both. They also have the option to listen to music.
4. Give what-I-Need (WIN), breaks:
Offer frequent, five-minute WIN breaks. It can be difficult to maintain virtual attention. It’s important for participants to take time to rest and recharge so that they can learn better. Encourage participants to look at the resources provided if they are interested.
5. Take notes:
You are the facilitator. One way to set the tone is to ask people to “pass notes.” You can remind them to use direct messaging, send text messages, etc.
6. Make your thinking visible:
Using Google Slides is a simple and effective way to make your thinking visible. Small groups can create a shared document to share their thoughts and make it visible not only to the facilitator but also to other participants. You can’t be there in all rooms. Sometimes, conversations end when facilitators join other rooms. The facilitator can keep track of what people think and where they have questions or needs. This is a great resource that people can take home from sessions.
Facilitators of professional learning in virtual spaces have the unique opportunity to create learning differently. You can use the strategies described above to accommodate the differences of your participants, maximize technology and create authentic opportunities for everyone to learn, connect and grow.