Flipping Collaboration for Professional Development

For this week, I’d like to offer some thoughts about Sue Kimmel’s challenge for flipping collaboration (post 9/9/12) in a different, but related model for professional development by and for teacher librarians.

“I would like to advocate that we look for ways to become more fluid and nimble in our approach to time and how we use it to co-plan, co-implement, and co-assess teaching and learning as we continue to ‘push everyone toward excellence (Loertscher, 2008)’.”

One of the guidelines in Empowering Learners (2009), concerns professional development designed to “sustain and increase knowledge and skills.” (43)  As teacher librarians, we strive to expand our understanding of best practice through various opportunities for professional development through courses, webinars, conferences, and so on.  In our schools, we provide learning experiences for our colleagues, as well as our students.

The time issue looms large for both participating in and providing for professional development.  Other than dedicated professional development days that are scheduled around administrative goals, there just aren’t enough hours in the school day for sustained, reflective, meaningful learning for any of us. How can we find a better way that will make a difference?

Web 2.0 tools and applications offer platforms for co-teaching and learning for students, as Sue mentioned, but let’s think about how we might use a 24/7 environment for providing a community space for teacher learning.  The purpose could be described as a place to read and reflect, take risks, model new technology applications, ask questions, discuss and debate, collaborate, and develop new resources for practice and personal learning networks.

Sounds like pie in the sky, but let’s take a look at Jennifer LaGarde’s blog (Adventures of Library Girl) as she describes how she uses Edmoto as platform for “Gamifying PD.”  When you look at the list of expectations and goals, you will see that she has combined face to face, online, and participatory activities-and it sounds engaging and fun.  And it’s available 24/7 whenever a participant logs on.

Blended learning is another way to describe participatory interaction that offers opportunities for face to face and online learning that are both individual and interactive.  A course/learning management system such as Blackboard, Moodle, Haiku and others, can provide a space for content, assessments, discussion boards, blogs and so on, that is available asynchronously.  Face to face sessions can be physical or virtual through webcasts or podcasts, both synchronously and asynchronously.

If you are interested in how blended learning works as a model for higher education, I recommend reading “Communities of Practice for Blended Learning: Toward an Integrated Model for LIS education.” (2010) I discovered this article when I was doing research for a chapter in a book about blended learning.  Joyce Yukawa of St. Catherine University in St. Paul describes blended learning within a graduate level LIS course.  She provides the rationale for combining appropriate technology to meet the needs of adult learners and to foster a social construct for learning. The emphasis is on learning by doing.  LIS students had to use the technology applications as they focused on library projects and assignments. The ideas presented here provide convincing reasons to think about ways to adapt school or district wide professional development to a blended learning environment.

At UVM, where I teach and learn from my students, blended learning has enhanced a cohort experience for everyone.  In school library media studies courses, students from across the state are able to participate in courses for licensure or professional development. In a small state such as ours, we are proud to have contributed to building a network of colleagues and friends who have become educational leaders in schools across Vermont, and access to 24/7 online learning has paved the way.

Collaboration is at the crux of participatory culture.  So let’s get on with it!

Judy Kaplan


American Association of School Librarians (AASL). (2009). Empowering learners: Guidelines for school library media programs. Chicago, IL: American Library Association


LaGarde, J. (2012, August 12). Game based PD for an epic win [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.librarygirl.net/ 2012/08/game-based-pd-for-epic-win.html


Yukawa, J. (2010). Communities of practice for blended learning: toward an integrated model for LIS education. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 51: (2) 54-75.


2 thoughts on “Flipping Collaboration for Professional Development

  1. Yes to Flipping PD, Judy. This strategy addresses one of the barriers to collaboration – TIME! It can also provide access after a face-to-face learning event for faculty who were not present or need a review.

    I think is this one area where preservice school librarian graduate students in online programs may be ahead of the curve. Since all of our learning is online, our students have created Web-based tutorials and inservices, at least since I joined the faculty here in 2009.

    In Librarians as Instructional Partners, students conduct an investigation into at least two information problem-solving models. They select the one they deem the best for their students and teachers and create a digital presentation or inservice to convince their audience(s) that the selected process is worth learning and using. Here’s the assignment sheet: http://ls5443.pbworks.com/w/page/11004136/A_2_4

    In that course, students also develop a semester-long Marketing and Advocacy project to promote the instructional partner role of school librarians. Working in small groups, they develop a fictitious librarian who presents a Web 2.0 elevator speech plus other Web-based information to influence their target audiences – classroom teachers or administrators. You can visit the TWU Pioneer School Library at: http://twupioneerschoollibrary.pbworks.com/w/page/12672900/FrontPage

    In Multimedia resources and Services, students create digital tutorials or digital inservices. The goal is for students to use the 4 Cs (Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity). I post a just few examples from previous semesters (because I don’t want to limit creativity) on our course wiki: http://ls5233.wikispaces.com/digital_tutorials_inservices

    When librarians curate their own digital professional development offerings, they have an online portfolio that demonstrates their impact on learning and teaching in their schools—a portfolio that is available to students, teachers, administrators, families, and community. Bravo!

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