This week’s reading dealt with a number of professional development strategies and programs that have been implemented in real-life situations with success. Based on these articles, it definitely that an essential element of a successful professional development program is providing people with time to complete the assignments and workshops, rather than demanding that they be completed in employees’ free time. It also is helpful when the planners attempt to motivate the learners by providing incentives, such as a stipend or a reward. Even if the learning itself becomes its own reward over time, there is something to be said for getting people started with more immediate and external motivations.
Something else that struck me about the articles and the plans they described was how much the programs described reminded me of our discussions about gamification of learning. It occurs to me that gamification might actually be an extremely effective strategy for this type of learning and development. The programs described were already part of the way there, as they were very level-based, allowing participants to complete and master certain tasks or skills before “leveling up” to another. There was a lot of choice involved, as participants could select their own professional development paths to an extent. There was also a system of feedback; for example, the Semadeni article described how teachers would be observed by mentors to be presented with feedback about their mastery of the particular skill. Finally, as mentioned before, there was a system of rewards, in the form of a stipend or an item like an MP3 player, which could be likened to the system of badges that many learning game systems use.