It’s no secret that educators love learning! Often in the field of education, we see a plethora of terms used to describe learning opportunities for educators – professional learning, professional development, training, courses, conferences, sessions, quick tips, continuing education, and acronyms too numerous to list in this blog post. And while all roads lead to increased knowledge, not all paths are created equal. Here at Vartek, our company’s core APPLE values include focus on Learning. Solidifying our passion for growth and continuous development and professional learning plays a large part of that growth allowing us to successfully serve our clients in the ever-changing world of technology integration. 

We believe that successful professional development happens in a variety of learning experiences that we model with our employees and are committed to sharing within our partner schools to elevate their staff and in turn student success. Fellow blogger, Eric Patnoudes, M.Ed., shares on agrees that while all professional learning is advancing, training and professional development are two very different entities. We concur. 

We view professional learning as an umbrella term that includes training (the how) and professional development (the why). Both are equally important. Training, the how-to part of learning, is instructive and often hands-on. Training allows a learner to see how to use a particular tool. For example, when implementing a new exciting classroom tool like FlipGrid, teachers will first need to understand the functions of the tool. How to download the tool, how to set it up, how to give students access, how to embed into the classroom.

Once the basics have been mastered then we can move to professional development with this tool, the why. As in, why should I use this method or tool in my classroom? How will it help me or my students? Professional development really focuses on why something should be used to improve learning. This might look like identifying objectives that show how student engagement can be improved using FlipGrid. Just like in designing a lesson, it is important to understand where your learners are and meet them in that place to move forward, so it is possible a reverse to some training is necessary during professional development. 

It’s important to understand the need for balanced professional learning that includes both training and professional development, as one without the other leads to unsuccessful understanding and poor pedagogy. Always keeping our eye on the prize of purposeful professional learning and continuous development.

About the Author:

Misty leads the Vartek’s team of technology integration experts (the “iTeam”) as the Director – Technology Integration. With both a bachelor’s and master’s in education, Misty has 14 years of K-12 classroom experience in both brick and mortar and eSchools. She possesses a post-graduate certification in online and blended learning and has developed content for digital classrooms. Misty has led instructional design efforts at the university level, helping implement a new learning management system at the university. Her background in corporate training has prepared her to lead the design of engaging professional development for Vartek’s partner schools.