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‘Houston, we have a problem’ – Adult Learning Principle #5 and online professional development

In schools, problems pop up every second.

Maybe Toby just got stung by a bee (wait, is he allergic?).
Perhaps Alia’s mum is at the front office, and she needs to talk to someone about why her daughter hasn’t been picked for the volleyball team.

Meanwhile, Katie and Flynn in Year 3 have a major issue to be resolved around an unfair Pokémon trade.

Then there’s always bound to be a staff culture issue playing out at morning tea, perhaps a little bit of pushback to leadership about the new literacy program, and at some point, there will be a big collective sigh from EVERYONE when the new curriculum changes are announced.

As teachers, we are constantly solving problems throughout our day. Sometimes we work from our own experience or learnings, or we draw on that of others. When we don’t know what to do, we begin to realise that we need more training in a certain area.

Yet how often are we able to quickly learn a new approach and implement the learned solution on the same day? In our personal lives, we can often do this more easily. For example, if your car horn starts honking and you can’t stop it, this video has you covered. Or if you are wondering if you can eat leftover pizza five days after you order it, problem solved right here. We do this kind of learning all the time right? We have a problem, and we quickly search online to solve it. But it’s less common in professional learning in schools, and instead, we can sometimes wait months to find evidence-based, useful answers to our problems.

Enter, Adult Learning Principle Number 5 – ‘problem orientation’.

Problem orientation encourages individuals to approach learning with a problem-solving mindset. The right online professional development opportunities for teachers are a game-changer here, with just-in-time platforms allowing staff to engage in self-directed learning, tackle real-world challenges, and apply practical solutions to enhance their teaching methods immediately. By focusing on problem-solving, teachers can actively address issues they encounter in their classrooms, such as student engagement, curriculum design, or technology integration.

One of the greatest advantages of online learning for professional development is the flexibility it offers. Teachers can access a wide range of courses, webinars, and resources at their own pace and convenience. This allows educators to choose topics that align with their specific needs and interests, empowering them to target their professional growth effectively.

Whilst we can’t expect Alia’s mother to wait while we complete the parent engagement course and then tackle her volleyball question, we can experience a real-world challenge, realise we could have done better, and then commit to engaging in learning when we can get to it. If our staff have regular top-ups on anaphylaxis training where we can easily track their course completion, it makes Toby’s bee sting more manageable.

As for Katie and Flynn in Year 3 and that allegedly unfair Pokémon trade, we haven’t got a course yet on the relative values of different cards, but we’ll keep an eye out for you.

Aaron Tait

Aaron is a co-founder of EC by Go1 and Vice President of Marketing. Since 2012 Aaron has developed and delivered professional learning programs K-12 education staff across the world. He is the co-author of the books Edupreneur (Wiley) and Dream Team (ASCD).

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