Putting the PLE Into PLD: Virtual Professional Learning and Development
Hazel Owen, M.A., Ethos Consultancy, New Zealand
The range of affordances that a virtual environment offers can provide opportunities for more formal Professional Learning and Development (PLD) that has flexibility of choice, time and approach for educators. It was this potential that inspired the design of the Virtual Professional Learning and Development (VPLD) program that was instigated in October 2009 by the NZ Ministry of Education, who also funded the project. The findings from the pilot of the VPLD program in 2010 indicated that when professional learning was situated within the practitioner's context, and with complementary, easily-accessible opportunities for sharing of practice within an online Community of Practice, participants demonstrated high levels of engagement as well as changes in their own teaching practice. The VPLD Programme was facilitated and researched again during 2011, building on findings from 2010. Findings to date suggest that the educators developed a sense of self-efficacy that motivated them to trial alternative approaches, and to initiate iterative cycles of trial, error, and improvement.
personal learning environments, PLE, communities of practice, mentoring, lifelong learning, contextualised learning, eLearning, virtual mentor