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Digital professional learning

Teachers in New Zealand and around the world are increasingly turning to the internet for professional learning. This might take the shape of a taking part in a MOOC (massive open online course), joining in with discussions on the VLN, taking part in one of the numerous education-based Twitter chats, reading blogs or more.

The professional learning is also taking place 24-7. Many teachers are continually learning and seeking more learning.

It would be great hear from you about what you're doing in terms of online professional learning.

  • What learning are you accessing and how?
  • What are your top "go-to" places for online professional learning?
  • Do you capture your learning (and reflections) as evidence towards the Registered Teacher Criteria? How?
  • How are you sharing your learning with your school, colleagues and the wider education community?
  • How do you balance your online time with the rest of your life?


Check out the Enabling e-Learning page on Registered Teacher Criteria and e-Learning if you would like to know more about how e-Learning can support the RTC.


  • Jane Armstrong Bos (View all users posts) 27 Aug 2014 2:25pm ()

    Connected Educator Month is a global initiative designed to support and promote networked approaches to educational professional learning. It's free PLD for the month of October. Participants can either attend events or run one of their own. To find out how you can participate, go to Connected Educator Month.

  • Annemarie Hyde (View all users posts) 27 Aug 2014 4:45pm ()

    What learning are you accessing and how?

    I'm one of those folk who has to know what's happening everywhere all the time. Someone else called it FOMO - fear of missing out!  So I have notifications set up on my email for all my VLN groups. If I don't have time to read them all at least I can see what is being discussed.

    I've started my Masters in Educational Leadership as I fully believe that we need to be more aware of the research and ideas that are out there and better informed.  I like the idea that Finnish educators are well educated with masters degrees. Academia is not the only necessity as a teacher, but it helps if you do have at least literacy and numeracy above Level 3 of our curriculum and I do worry that that is not so. If we want credibility as a profession we need to be the best we can be. And we have to attract the best to our profession.

    I did my whole post grad paper online and didn't use a pen.  I managed with online tools and like the fact that I have everything curated and filed instead of flicking through bits of paper.  I can also restructure or reuse a piece easily without having to start again. Tessa Gray once challenged me about being a digital educatior but having a pad and pen. It made sense to me. Even my shopping list goes on to an app on my iphone.

    In 2012 I completed the National Aspiring Principals' programme and loved both the learning and connections, several who I keep up with now. Much of our learning was online with discussion in a VLN forum or in MyPortfolio - the latter not my chosen platform, I must say; it is clunky.

    The people I keep up with are on Twitter and that professional learning platform is HUGE for me.  Kerri sums it up:

    Helpful PLN

    And these people I truly regard as friends. Time and time again when I meet them face to face at educamps or conferences, it strikes me how much we like each other. We have been enabled to get to know the contents of the book rather than judging the book by its cover.


    What are your top "go-to" places for online professional learning?

    1. Twitter and my PLN – and you pick up who to ask about what and where!
    2. Virtual Learning Network
    3. Google
    4. Waikato – because that’s the university I’ve started my post grad study with.

    Do you capture your learning (and reflections) as evidence towards the Registered Teacher Criteria? How?

    I keep a reflective blog and I’m going to cross post this as it’s caught my interest.  It’s at likeahoginmud@blogspot.com.  We are frequently reminded that we must leave a positive digital footprint.  But it’s not just about not doing things on line that show bad judgement.  It’s about being “google-able.” These days you NEED to be found online. I know school leaders who are not advertising in the Education Gazette and only online because they want connected educators.

    I go back and tag my posts with the Registered Teacher Criteria.  That way I am keeping evidence, I’m not doubling up, and it’s just in time.

    How are you sharing your learning with your school, colleagues and the wider education community?

    1. Twitter - I’m @mrs_hyde and I connect a lot.
    2. My blog
    3. Posts like this
    4. Staff meetings, educamps, Ulearn, Connected Rotorua (one of the start up crew, collaborative docs
    5. The media- lucky enough to be interviewed by our Daily post, the NZEI mag and Ed Review.

    How do you balance your online time with the rest of your life?

    Others would say not well, as I am often attached to a device. But if you are passionate about it then really, what does balance mean? I do put family first and I have times when I read “popcorn for the brain” novels, watch TV, garden and walk. And I don’t have my phone plugged into my ears as I prefer birdsong!

  • Justine Hughes (View all users posts) 28 Aug 2014 10:53am ()

    I'm really interested in this discussion as I was an 'early adopter' of online professional learning and am even more passionate about it now.  Completing my final research for my Masters where my focus is on Online Communities of Practice for teacher professional learning so I'm looking forward to reading what people add here.

    I've been on Twitter for a long time, blog about my practice and learning and run my own FB page to share resources and discussions.  This year I've also started curating the TeachThought Fb page with the goal of developing an online global community of learners sharing their practice.  Slowly starting to take off!

    I've shared my practice for many years in staff meetings, workshops, magazine articles and research shared online. This is one of my favourite parts of the learning process as the questions and critiques that come from sharing are what can change / modify and add to your practice.

    Balance is a tricky one.  I was always connected and working until a pretty major operation last year.  I've learned that it's pretty important to monitor yourself and try to achieve a balance.  Life is short and sometimes a wake-up call is needed!  (I still struggle with the balance though - old habits die hard!!  Plus I agree with Annemarie - I'm also passionate about what I do so it doesn't realy feel like a chore.  Love sharing with and learning from others) Laughing

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 02 Sep 2014 9:48am ()

    Thanks Annemarie and Justine for kicking us off, and Jane for reminding us about Connected Educator Month (coming up fast!).

    For me... Much of my online professional learning comes from the numerous educational blogs I follow. I've found most of them through twitter which is my other key source of learning. In fact since I really found out what twitter was about and how it can be used/taken advantage of for professional learning, this has become my #1 source for learning and it's a great place to ask questions and seek advice.

    I blog also, however although I've thought about it often I've never specifically linked my blogging to the RTC. I know I should! I have a personal reflective/professional blog and I've had joint reflective blogs with teachers at my previous school also. That was an interesting task! Well worth it if you can encourage others to blog with you about something!

    I also completed my postgrad/Masters study online - so that was a big part of my online professional learning in the past 3 years or so.

    How do I balance my online life with the rest of my life? I don't really. I seem to be always connected. I must admit that at my kids sports during the winter I have had to choose to put my phone away (although usually it was out to take and share pics of my kids playing!) I try to ensure my children aren't on devices all day and they get outside in the sun. I have to remind myself to do the same or find an excuse to take my device with me, like in geocaching Wink

  • anne robertson (View all users posts) 02 Sep 2014 11:00am ()


    Just like Anne-Marie I have an alert for VLN messages and so this popped up as I was reflecting on a lesson I have just had with my Yr 9 class. My topic for my efellows inquiry is looking at professional learning and how adults learn and so this thread ties in well with the reading and the observations I have been doing. 

    I work in an increasingly online way at work and I am never without some form of technology - I think the fear of being without your phone is called "nomophobia" and like Nathaniel as an avid photographer and geocacher I can always find an excuse to take tech with me wherever I go!  

    However, I do also find that sometimes pen and paper is a more effective way to do something and I also recognise that everyone learns differently and for some technology is still overwhelming and threatening. 

    I blog reasonably regularly and Twitter is my very best PLN, I am also a member of several FB educator groups and of course the VLN is a huge source of PL. Two years ago I took part in a MOOC called eLearning and Digital Cultures that was mindblowing and I would love to do another.  I still connect on a monthly basis with people I met online during EDC as we have formed a Goodreads book club and we read and discuss a book each month on Twitter. Twitter Chats are also huge for me; I don't always get to edchatnz but love the wealth of information and ideas that they generate when I do.  I also "listen in" and occasionally contribute the UKedchat and other random chats from the US depending on whether I happen to be online when they are happening.  I think it is great to find out what educators are doing and thinking all around the world. Of course, all these things are excellent distractors from the work that I am usually suppoised to be doing but I find them so energising.  

    Breakfast is usually spent scrolling through my twitter feed and bookmarking interesting looking articles, blogposts and videos to look at later.  (I don't always get to them, unfortunately)  Sometimes, they prompt me to change completely a lesson I had planned.  For instance, this morning one of the VLN posts is about What a 21st Century student looks like? The aim is to get teachers talking but I wondered what the actual 21st century students thought they looked like. It led to a really rich discussion once we got over the first hurdle of them thinking that the 21st century was yet to come!

    I have a Google Site that I use for my Teacher Criteria portfolio but I am looking at how I can streamline more effectively the different sites that I "manage".  I am not alwys very organised and so one of my goals is to be more systematic about how I tag the things I do so that I can find them more easily!  Encouraging my colleagues to blog has so far proved fruitless but I keep trying!  I have created a Google Site in school for teachers and share things I find interesting and also all the respources for our Professional Learning go there.  I am hoping that because they have to go there for PL resources they will "notice" what else is there with some judicious nudging and strat contributing their own content. 

    Balance??  I was talking to some teachers the other day and they asked me how I found the time to do all this "work" at the weekends.  I replied that I don't really see it as work - learning is my passion - (well one of them) and I actually enjoy it.  I feel frustrated when other work prevents me from having the time to read and learn! 

    A final note, would anyone mind if I use some of the comments in the thread here for my efellows inquiry? 


  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 02 Sep 2014 1:25pm ()

    Hi Anne

    Thanks for sharing!

    No objections from me for using the comments but of course I can't speak for the others. Probably best to approach on an individual basis if there's something you want to use.

    I'm about to jump into the 2014 student discussion with the hope of seeing what your students have said in your discussion today!


  • Annemarie Hyde (View all users posts) 03 Sep 2014 9:48pm ()

    You are welcome to use any quotes from me, should you want to, Anne.

  • Steph Kitto (View all users posts) 07 Sep 2014 9:20pm ()

    More and more I am turning to the internet to access PLD. When I was living in Christchurch face-to-face professional learning opportunites was readily available and easily accessible. Now that I am living in Central Otago most face-to-face PD requires travel and that's not always possible.

    The VLN is a huge part of my professional learning and one of the first places I go to when I have a question that my colleagues cannot answer. The wealth of knowledge and advice on the VLN is a fantastic resource. People are only too happy to share their thoughts and ideas.

    Twitter has become a great source for professional learning and a fantastic way of connecting with educators from around the globe.  I regularly participate in #edchatnz, and often leave the chats feeling inspired.  

    I am a POND pioneer and have made some useful connections on POND. Once it is in fully established I think it is going to be a great place to collaborate and share.

    TED talks are another great source of professional learning, as are many of the professional teaching blogs that are on the internet.  I have several education blogs that I visit regularly. Many of these bloggers post notes on course they have attended, add slideshares from workshops and other educational links which are really useful.

    I am really looking forward to the 'Connected Educator Month', and making the most of the on-line PLD that is being offered.  Smile  Many thanks to those people who have organised these opportunities.

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