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Part 3: Determining the Culminating Event: Why I am Using PBL to Design Professional Development

In my previous two posts, we established what our learning target is and how to frame it as a problem statement for our staff to address. Since I am not really comfortable with the phrase "problem statement" (at least in the case of when we are talking about doing what is best for our learners), I am going to go with the simple reframing of an "opportunity statement".

Now that we have outlined the goal of our faculty learning, the question of "how do we design an authentic learning experience for our educators?", is answered in the very real world of their practice as educators. Some questions we considered as we were designing that authentic experience are:

  • What culminating event would demonstrate that our educators are able to take advantage of this opportunity? 
  • In very real terms, what product by virtue of its creation, would accurately convey the learning of the educator? 
  • How will the new learning affect instructional practice?

Considering these questions, we would want our educators to do the work that they would naturally do anyway. We do not need to create a fabricated culminating event since the learning has direct applicability to their PBL design. Our educators will demonstrate their learning by being able to produce and share 2 sets of things: 

  1. PBL plans that can be used for creating learning experiences in 90 minute block classes or in 50ish minute daily classes. 
  2. PBL plans that allow for the flexibility of having one day a week where learners build a unique modular schedule that fits their needs.
Seems pretty simple right? Ok, not so much. But if it were simple, would it be as rewarding? There is so much to unpack in order for us to take full advantage of the opportunities presented here and it has been really exciting work so far. Our staff is pulling together to ask big questions, challenge current thinking, and imagine what future learner success can look like. In the next post of this series, I'll share the process our staff went through to identify "Knows and Need to Knows" and how we are leveraging that list to maximize our collective learning.


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