Sunday, December 9, 2012

Making the Most of Your Online Professional Learning in the Digital Age

“Most successful teachers learn from a combination of resources, including local communities, virtual communities, and research,” writes Kristen Swanson in her new book Professional Learning in the Digital Age: The Educator’s Guide to User-Generated Learning. In other words, educators learn from the communities to which their are connected, and having the tools to make those connections are truly vital in the digital age. That’s where Swanson’s book comes in. Packed in only 109 pages, she gives readers the process and tools to become a connected educator in the 21st century, and engage in “user-generated learning.” Professional Learning in the Digital Age is a must read for educators who want to fine-tune the process of building and maintaining professional learning networks. And, for those have yet to venture out and begin the process of becoming a connected educator, this book gives them clear straightforward advice on how to do it, and a Tool Repository at the back of the book with which to get started.

Swanson begins by defining what is meant by “user-generated learning” which she defines as “learning acquired through active curation, reflection, and collaboration to a self-selected collaborative space.” In other words, user-generated learning is a very deliberate process of carrying out three specific actions that can transform an educator into a connected one, and by default transform his or her educational practice. These three actions that bring about the kinds of learning fostered through online connections include:
  • Curating: Process or action of carefully collecting relevant resources. In this case, these are resources entirely associated with our professional practice. There are online tools that aid in the process of curating the content and information on which learning is based.
  • Reflecting: Process or action of making sense of this newly curated information and determining what it all means for professional practice. Reflecting is vital to assimilating our new learning. Tools such as blogging assist educators in reflection.
  • Contributing: This is the final process of action of user-generated learning. It consists of giving back to the community of learners to which we are now connected. Contribution fosters connections.
In simple terms, engaging in these activities result in fostering and growing as a connected educator. Swanson gives readers a powerful formula for fostering “user-generated learning” through connectedness, capitalizing on one of the most powerful professional development tools educators have in the 21st century.
Professional Learning in the Digital Age: The Educator’s Guide to User-Generated Learning, Eye on Education,  is powerful-succinct guide for all educators to learn 21st century style.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your kind words, and also thank you for reading! My goal was to give anyone interested in pushing their professional learning a quick-start guide. I'm also happy to support anyone who is starting (or continuing) their learning journey online. It's such a process, isn't it?