Spring is here. The birds are chirping. The grass is growing. The weather outside is beautiful. So, what do you think teachers are doing on those beautiful spring evenings and weekends? Why, professional development (PD) of course. More specifically, gamified PD. Over the first 30 days of our gamification approach to PD, we have had our pilot group of teachers put in over 300 hours of learning during their own time.
Driving back from PETE&C 2016 with my district's technology director, Justin Arthur (@JustinTech), we started talking about all the fantastic things we saw like blended learning, G Suite for Education, and the gamification of classrooms. This lead to a discussion on professional development, and how we could bring those aspects from what we saw at PETE&C 2016 into PD. That discussion became the starting point for the gamification of PD in our district, which evolved into what it is now, Learning Pathways PD.
What is Learning Pathways PD?
It brings all of the elements of collaboration, customization, relevance, supportive, engaging, competitive, anytime, anywhere learning together through the use of G Suite for Education. We call our gamification of PD, Learning Pathways PD.
Why Learning Pathways PD?
Teachers have in the past, learned through scheduled day-long workshops, where knowledge was given out. But with gamified PD, teachers become engaged learners, as it connects technology to the curriculum, encourages collaboration, builds community, and it's fun. Teachers are expected to create engaging, student-centered learning environments that encompass the 4C's, so why not give them the opportunity to experience the same in their learning?
How is Learning Pathways PD Played?
Staff choose a level 100 G Suite course of their choice to begin. For our pilot group, we offered an introductory course, Chromebooks, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Classroom, Google Drawings, Google Slides, and Google Forms. Experience points (XP) are awarded to teachers for viewing educational resources, completing knowledge checks, performance tasks and bonus opportunities, along with completing an exit ticket. Once a course is completed, staff have a few options. They can continue onto a 200 level course or choose a new 100 level course to explore. They are the drivers of the learning.
Who Can Partciapte in Learning Pathways?
We decided early on to invite all staff, including administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrative professionals. We wanted to build a learning culture for all in our district, so opening Learning Pathways up to any staff member emphasized our belief in that learning for all culture.
Why Start with G Suite Courses?
A pre-assessment survey completed by staff showed a need to learn more on G Suite tools. So we decided to build our courses around G Suite tools due to the pre-assessment survey, and that our district was beginning to use more and more Chromebooks.
What is the Set Up of a Learning Pathways Course?
Our courses are built and completed in Google Classroom. Each course begins with an announcement/introduction. This is where we give a summary of what staff will learn, and where we build community. We enjoy using pictures and videos of our district leaders in humorous ways to help bring a little extra fun into the PD experience. Next comes a question post where educational resources are posted. We ask staff to give a summary of something that sparked their interest from the educational resources. Then comes an assignment post where staff must complete a knowledge check on the educational resources in a Google Form. Staff move onto the next assignment post, performance task. This is where staff create something relevant to their position from what they learned and submit for review. Then staff have the option to complete a bonus assignment post, which is an extension of their learning from the course. Finally, they end with the last assignment post, exit ticket. Once they complete the exit ticket, which is completed in Google Forms, they are automatically directed to another Google Form which allows them to choose their next course.
What Does the XP Get Teachers?
With the XP staff earn, they may cash in their points for prizes. 500 XP = 11" Chromebook. 800 XP = 13-14" Chromebook. 1000 XP = 11" Touchscreen Chromebook. 2000 XP = 5 Chromebook Learning Center.
What Are the Requirements?
Staff must attend one face to face initial meeting to get set up and familiarize themselves with the pathways program. Staff must complete three, leveled synchronous models, attend one, online asynchronous event offered multiple times and multiple days after school, and must complete and end of pilot assessment.
What is Learning Pathways Live?
Learning Pathways Live is the asynchronous event that staff must attend to successfully complete the pilot. Using Adobe Connect, we have done Pathways Live on Google Forms, Google Classroom, Quizizz, and scheduled are a teacher panel Q & A, along with a 30 in 30 session. These Pathways Live have been an unanticipated success. The energy in the "room" has been outstanding, and we have been known to give away prizes to the first person to call our classrooms, tweet us, or be a random lucky winner.
We have heard from so many staff members involved in Learning Pathways PD, and all have been so enthusiastic about their experiences. They tell us how it has brought passion and excitement back into their classrooms. They tell us how they are trying ideas they learned in our Learning Pathways courses almost immediately after completing them. They are telling us how they are starting to collaborate more with their colleagues. They are telling us they are having fun, and work isn't work, if you're having fun.