On the Path to an Alternative Professional Learning Plan

Pathway to Alternative Professional Learning Plan

Pathway to Alternative Professional Learning Plan


As we transform professional learning, we must first consider what the expected outcomes should be. In other words, what should the faculty know or do after the professional learning experience? Ultimately, we want to provide learning opportunities to faculty that

  • are ongoing, delivered over a significant period of time to ensure that learning participants (faculty) have adequate time to absorb the learning, to practice and apply, and to reflect;
  • offer opportunities for active learning, so that faculty members are engaged and actively practicing and applying the learning;
  • are discipline specific to address specific needs of each academic discipline where warranted, but also that offer opportunities for networking and collaboration between disciplines also.

Timeframe to launch/implement: This will begin in April 2019, with professional learning communities (PLCs), and

To ensure that professional learning opportunities for faculty are adequately designed and support the needs of our faculty, ongoing research in educational trends and innovative academic strategies will be conducted by members of the Teaching and Learning Division, and OC Global. To ensure that faculty will have a voice in the types of learning experiences they will receive, a survey will be provided. Additionally, we will develop a Professional Development Tracking app that will maintain a transcript of the faculty professional learning; in this app, faculty will also be able to indicate their development needs. Instructional leadership will also be surveyed to determine their perception of faculty development needs.

Brainstorming sessions will occur between the Division of Teaching & Learning and OC Global to build the learning experiences for faculty. These learning experiences will be developed to span a significant timeframe, typically delivered over the course of a semestre. Training experiences will be developed for delivery in a face-to-face environment with supporting materials in the learning management system, and also for online delivery for those faculty members who work remotely.

After surveying faculty and brainstorming to plan the learning experience, affinity mapping will allow us to prioritize learning needs of faculty and to package experiences by category. This will also allow us to consider customised sessions to meet discipline specific needs.

Learning experiences will be scheduled to maximise the numbers of faculty members that can participate. Each session will be offered multiple times (mornings, afternoons, Fridays) to ensure that more faculty can participate. Professional learning experiences will not be scheduled during weeks where faculty are launching courses or closing courses, for example, no sessions will be offered during the first week or last week of each term. Professional learning will be provided in sessions that continue every other week, through the short term (four session over eight weeks), or through the long term (eight sessions over sixteen weeks).
In addition to scheduling considerations, learning experiences will also be developed to be delivered through the learning management system (Blackboard) to reach remote faculty. Because some of the learning experiences will be discipline specific, faculty from each department will have shared learning experiences that will hep them to bond, and will encourage intradepartmental collaboration. Other learning experiences will be developed that encourage interdepartmental interaction and collaboration, and will encourage faculty to work together across departments.

For ongoing support, a mentoring program has been developed, however currently, mentoring is only provided for new full-time faculty. This mentoring program will be expanded to include our part-time faculty. Mentors will meet weekly with new faculty through their first full semestre. To ensure that needs are being met, a list of suggest discussion topics has been made available for each week in the Faculty Support Studio.
The Teaching & Learning Team will provide in-class support to help faculty implement new strategies that the professional learning experiences have introduced. Additionally, professional learning experiences will be shared with instructional leaders (Deans, Directors/Department Chairs, Master Teachers, and Learning Experience Designers). These leaders will be encouraged to model the new behaviours and strategies for the faculty. Faculty members who have implemented innovative strategies will be encouraged to share their experiences through Faculty Innovation Exchange, providing another layer of support for faculty.

To ensure continuous improvement, faculty participants will have opportunity to provide feedback for each session. This feedback will be used to improve sessions, and in the development of new learning opportunities. This will allow us to reassess and reimagine professional learning as needed.

Using concepts of Understanding by Design, each professional learning experience will be developed with the outcomes in mind, using a model similar to the one demonstrated in a previous post.

To ensure that we stay on task, I have attached a spreadsheet with the outline for this pathway, including projected dates and the individual who will be directly responsible for each element.

Here’s a link to the spreadsheet.


Bowen, Ryan S., (2017). Understanding by Design. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/understanding-by-design/.

Duarte, N. (2009, December 16). Duarte Design’s five rules for presentation [Video file]. . Retrieved from YouTube https://youtu.be/hT9GGmundag

Duarte, N. (2013, February 19). How to create better visual presentations [Video file]. Stanford Graduate School of Business. Retrieved from YouTube https://youtu.be/so9EJoQJc-0

Duarte, N. (2013, March 21). How to tell a story [Video file]. Stanford Graduate School of Business. Retrieved from YouTube https://youtu.be/9JrRQ1oQWQk

Duarte, N. (2010, December 10). Nancy Duarte uncovers common structure of greatest communicators [Video file]. TEDx Talks. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1nYFpuc2Umk

Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/system/files/2013-176_ProfessionalDevelopment.pdf

Guskey, T. R., & Yoon, K. S. (2009). What Works in Professional Development? Phi Delta Kappan, 90(7), 495–500. Retrieved from http://outlaw.odessa.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ833263&site=eds-live

Interaction Design Foundation. (2019). Affinity diagrams: Learn how to cluster and bundle ideas and facts. Retriefed from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/affinity-diagrams-learn-how-to-cluster-and-bundle-ideas-and-facts

Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the U.S. and Abroad. Technical Report. National Staff Development Council. Retrieved from https://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/pdf/nsdcstudytechnicalreport2009.pdf