Room to IMPROVE: Designing Virtual Professional Learning Environments

Room to IMPROVE: Designing Virtual Professional Learning Environments

Sydney Brown (Gardner-Webb University, USA), Jennifer Putnam (Gardner-Webb University, USA) and Holly Mabry (Gardner-Webb University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9438-3.ch006
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Digital learning publications have become more accessible for both creators and users. With little training, creators can utilize various web hosting sites to design and publish engaging content. The purpose of this chapter is to describe an innovative practice in providing graduate students with structured activities and resources to collaboratively author and digitally publish modules on IMPROVE (Instructional Modules for Professional learning Responding to Opportunities and Valuing Educators), a virtual professional active learning journal published on Digital Commons. In 2018, over 500 institutions of higher learning used the Digital Commons platform to manage, publish, and showcase work by faculty and students. The overall process utilized can be easily adapted to other disciplines. The learning cycle featured in the modules is based on the STAR Legacy Cycle developed by the IRIS Center and on the work of Dr. John Bransford and colleagues.
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History Of The Project

In the summer of 2014, the program coordinator of the EdD program in Curriculum and Instruction at Gardner-Webb University began an exploration of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), virtual learning platforms offered through Coursera, edX, and Harvard Open Courses, among others. This exploration was initiated due to both personal curiosity and professional interest. Personally, the program coordinator enjoyed discovering the availability of free content from prestigious universities and revered lecturers for herself. Professionally, the coordinator was seeking models of alternate means of professional learning to share with her graduate candidates. Significant statewide funding for K-12 educator professional learning had been drastically reduced, exposing a need for innovative means for quality professional learning experiences to continue.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Course Design: The process used to determine the steps necessary to build a virtual course aimed at successful student outcomes.

Online Education: Learning that takes place electronically and relies on the Internet to provide new information or experiences for participants.

Open Educational Resources (OER): Text, media, and other digital assets available without copyright restrictions that are useful for a variety of purposes including teaching, learning, assessing, and research.

Higher Education: Advanced learning at the college or university level.

How People Learn Theory: Theory presented in the book How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School by John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking, editors, published by National Academies Press (2001) AU5: The in-text citation "Academies Press (2001)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. . The text describes teaching and learning implications of specific findings in cognitive science.

Distance Learning: Learning that takes place remotely, without the requirement of regular face-to-face teaching.

Instructional Design: The creation of effective products and experiences that lead to engaging content for the learner.

Global Education: A system of interdisciplinary, educational methods used to enhance learning opportunities through focusing on diverse perspectives.

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