Finding Synergy in Professional Learning

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ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation

Performance Indicator B

  • Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.


For the final blog post of this quarter, our cohort explores the triggering event of: what the ideal technology rich professional learning program look like. To me, this is a question that culminates all of our learning from this quarter of exploring professional development and program evaluation. We’ve investigated adult learning, best practices within PD and how to get support and give support to all stakeholders involved, whether it be teachers, teacher leaders or administration. The question I developed branches off onto a very similar path. I was curious what characteristics make up a well rounded technology rich professional learning program. It is very similar to our triggering event, but I wanted to focus on what aspects really equally rounded out a program.

Amazingly, I struggled to find a single resources that encompassed everything I was trying to portray. At the same time, I was trying to find an angle that I hadn’t really touched on yet with my previous blog posts this quarter. I know that every characteristic I have explored has its role in producing technology rich PD, but I thought that there had to be another component I had yet to learn about.

During my search, I came across an article by Brad Adams and Dr. Sophie Winlaw titled “ Finding Synergy Between Technology-Rich Tools And Authentic Collaboration To Enable Powerful Professional Learning.” I had heard the term ‘synergy’ in the past. To me, it meant the cooperation or mix of two or more things. I thought wow, this is a great term to use when talking about adult learning and quality PD.

A lot of the article’s focus mentioned online collaboration and PD. It was also based on the platform of a group called CIRCLE (Centre for Innovation, Research, Creativity &  Leadership in Education) so a lot of the writing was tied back into the group and what tools and resources they provided. However, there were several things that stood out to me that were entirely applicable to what I was exploring.

“Global research tells us that the best professional learning for teachers is school‐based, collaborative, relational, authentic and embedded into practice. In recent years, technology has transformed professional learning, offering an array of tools to interrogate and improve practice; however these are sometimes at the expense of the crucial element of authentic and rich human collaboration” (Adams, Winlaw 2016).

The above quote sums up the important characteristics of quality professional learning, along with everything we have been learning about this quarter. Adding technology to this learning has become powerful and a way to transform learning to another level, but all of this cannot be at the expense of that element of human collaboration. PD needs to be designed and developed in a way that showcases all of these elements together working in harmony.

These components working together ensure that “professional learning is experiential for the participant, with practical outcomes for the school. In this way, the synergy of innovative technology and creative community makes for hugely productive and effective professional learning” (Adams, Winlaw 2016).

Like I mentioned, most of the article mentioned these ideas through online professional learning, but the components that stood out to me seem like they would be even more powerful in a face to face learning environment. I think that finding that synergy between technology and a rich collaborative community is really a way to create well rounded technology rich professional learning.


Adams, B., & Winlaw, S., Dr. (2016, February 17). Finding Synergy Between Technology-Rich Tools And Authentic Collaboration To Enable Powerful Professional Learning. Retrieved March 13, 2017, from

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