Posts Tagged ‘adult learning’

I have written numerous times about the impact of COVID on student learning. In 7 COVID Edu Trends That Will Stick I wrote about shifts from an increased focus on equity, to greater digitization of resources to permanent changes to how we think about time in secondary schools.

I have recently been thinking about the shifts we have seen (or not seen) with professional learning for the adults in our schools.  In preparing to be part of a panel for A Cross Canada Professional Learning Conversation, I reflected on The State of Professional Learning in Canada that was published in 2016.  One of the great challenges in education in often being precise when describing why jurisdictions are having excellent student learning outcomes.  British Columbia, and Canada more generally, is widely seen as a world leader in education.  Again, this is ground I have covered before, and don’t want to open debate on PISA or other measures, but it is safe to say, Canada is viewed well across the world for K-12 education.

Three areas of that 2016 report that I still think are crucial today to our collective success include:  our focus on diverse learners, the balance between individual and system professional learning, and the need for leaders to be fully engaged in the professional learning in a community.  I think if anything these three in particular (the report has a longer list) are more important.  The pandemic emphasized the learning differences within classes, schools and across systems.  The need to focus on the diversity of our classrooms is more urgent than ever.  And when it comes to who drives the professional learning, I think of it as a healthy tension between the individual, their school and the system – one needs a balance – to ensure teachers are more than independent contractors who share a parking lot, but also allow for personalization in their own learning.  And if it ever was acceptable to be a school or district leader and not be a learning leader – that time is now over.

So, what have I seen as COVID impacts on the specifics of adult learning?

Content – COVID and other social issues that took place simultaneously have accelerated shifts we saw pre-Pandemic.  We are seeing increased interest in Indigenous learning – particularly related to our local Squamish Nation. In addition, mental wellness and wellbeing, equity, diversity and inclusivity as well as early learning are all areas of greater emphasis.  

Format – I am not sure where the preferred format question will land.  We are seeing a lot of uptake of in-person learning opportunities.  It is hard to know if this is just still the novelty of not being able to do this for several years, or if it is a return to these events which were the cornerstone of professional learning pre-pandemic.  During COVID we saw a huge growth in digital skills for adults, and many are continuing to find professional learning online now.  There is a new balance that is not yet finalized between these formats.

Drivers – Just like with students, staff are looking for deeper personalization and more control over their own learning.  One of the larger societal shifts in COVID was the move to increased remote work.  Of course, teaching does not lend itself well to this.  It is largely an in-person profession with fairly standard hours.  That said, there are more options for remote or flexible professional learning.  And the use of technology (and the dabbling in AI recently) have staff wanting even more precise experiences.  Why go to a literacy workshop with 100 K-12 teachers when you can be connected digitally to a group of educators from across the province working at your grade with similar resources?

There is a digital expectation – just like there is with our students and it is one that we are still working on to support the adult learning.

When it comes to adult learning it is not a surprise their needs are similar to the student learning needs – they want a system that gives them some universal experiences, but also some deep personalization – that provides options for in-person and digital experiences.  It will be interesting to see where we are in 3 years – and if there is a snapback – will 2026 look like the National report of 2016, or will adult learning in schools have been permanently altered by the pandemic.





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