Online Professional Learning for Educators is a project of the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at the NC State College of Education. Built on research-based models of effective professional development, professional learning communities, and online communities of practice, online professional learning courses focus on authentic, project-based learning, collaboration, and peer-supported learning, rather than tests and grades that are needed in other types of courses.
The Online Professional Learning for Educators initiative is developed through collaboration of a team of subject matter experts and instructional design specialists at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. Each of the online professional learning courses include core resources and supplemental materials around a specific topic, while also allowing for a great deal of personalization and flexibility. Because there is not a fixed path or a fixed curriculum everyone will follow, learning can be self-directed. Indeed, participants can -- and are expected to -- navigate their own paths, consistent with their own goals and the needs of their school or district, while being supported and guided by the facilitators, resources, education experts and fellow participants. And by conducting the course on such a massive scale -- literally thousands of educators can participate -- participants will also benefit from "crowdsourcing,” a collaborative professional learning experience that uses the "wisdom of the crowd” to discuss ideas, share strategies and resources, and exchange constructive feedback with other participants in similar roles and schools.