Emerging Ideas for Networked Professional Development

For three and a half years, I had the honor and pleasure to be part of the Teaching & Learning Innovations team at CSU Channel Islands. That experience allowed me to work in a creative environment, free of peer-to-peer competition, that honored and celebrated the unique strengths each team member brought to the table.  Together, we worked hard to imagine and create a program that would support and inspire faculty to improve their teaching to better support the needs of diverse students. Technology was at the center of this goal.  Jill Leafstedt and I wrote here and here about the ideas of untethering, humanizing, and openness that informed much of the work of T&LI.

In August, I left CI and started a new role with the California Community Colleges as Faculty Mentor, Digital Innovation for two CA Community College Chancellor’s Office-funded efforts: @ONE (Online Network of Educators) and the Online Education Initiative (OEI). This new opportunity allows me the honor of serving California’s community college students again, as well as build upon the important work I did with my team at CI.

Throughout the fall season, my new team and I have worked tirelessly to develop a digital infrastructure that would allow us to creatively support professional development of more than 90,000 faculty, staff, and administrators throughout the CCC system. At the center of this project has been the development of a website that is designed to foster sharing  across distances and is inspired by the principles of untethering.

Our website is now live and we welcome your visit: OnlineNetworkofEducators.org

My colleague, Lené Whitley-Putz, Faculty Mentor, Instructional Development, is the mastermind behind reimagining the @ONE courses and certificate programs, which support faculty to become effective online teachers and course designers and also grow the number of high quality online courses available to CCC students through the CCC Online Education Initiative.  I should also mention here that while @ONE’s offerings are tailored to CCC employees, they are open to everyone and all are either free or offered at a low cost.

In addition to our online courses and webinars, we are now layering in new Community offerings, which are designed to be flexible, untethered online professional development that can be a resource for individual faculty (70% of CCC’s 60,000+ faculty are part-time and many teach at more than one campus in addition to working other jobs) and be leveraged by campus PD leaders to enhance on-campus programs.

Here are a couple of things we have in the works. We’d love to see you get involved!

Reflective Writing Club

Building off many other similar types of programs (too numerous to list here but I’ll give a hat tip to Todd Conaway of University of Washington, Bothell and the Edublogs blogging club), this is a 6-week blogging journey that begins on January 26, 2018. Those who sign up for the “Club” will receive a new blog prompt each Friday and write a post in response to that prompt. Participants will share their posts on Twitter with #CCCWrite and engage with each other’s work through blog comments. This program is offered to:

  • demystify blogging, which is still an obscure concept to many educators;
  • improve the digital presence of educators;
  • model the use of social media for professional growth;
  • and facilitate the discovery of the educational value of digital writing.

Visit the Reflective Writing Club webpage to sign up.

CCC Digital Learning Day

For the past six years, K12 schools and districts across the nation have celebrated Digital Learning Day and this February 22nd, we are bringing it to the CCCs! CCC Digital Learning Day will be an untethered day of professional development, enhanced by free online presentations/discussions and on-campus activities organized by local PD coordinators to ensure more faculty and staff across the system are supported, regardless of whether they are on campus or not. This event aims to:

  • stimulate curiosity and exploration in teaching and learning through the use of digital tools
  • showcase effective uses of digital tools
  • provide opportunities to experiment with emerging technologies in a safe, supportive peer-based environment

We’ll be launching a social video contest in January, designed to invite faculty, staff, and students to share inspirational stories about what digital learning means to them. We’ll also sharing a call for proposals in January. We  invite campuses across the state to let us know what they have planned on their campus by contributing to this Google Doc.

Visit the #CCCDLDay webpage for updates and campus resources.

We’d love to have you get involved with our Spring 2018 offerings!

5 Comments to “Emerging Ideas for Networked Professional Development”

  1. Dana Grossman Leeman

    Hi Michelle,
    I love the term “untethered” to refer to faculty development that is not connected to a physical space, but offers faculty enrichment opportunities in digital spaces. I am doing similar work for faculty teaching in our online programs at Simmons University in Boston. I feel like the term untethered conveys a sense of freedom, breaking boundaries, and taking risks- but also free of some of the confines that make brick and mortar faculty development challenging.
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Dana,

      Thanks for your reply. I love the term too. I first heard it by Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, to describe how digital technologies are affecting K12 teaching and learning. It obviously resonated deeply with me. I’ll be writing a new blog post soon about the recent, untethered Can•Innovate event my team coordinated for the California Community Colleges on October 26, 2018. It was pretty wonderful! 🙂


      1. Dana Grossman Leeman

        That sounds terrific!!!

        I look forward to hearing more about your work. I am actually writing an article and would like to use the term Untethered to describe doing faculty development entirely in synchronous sessions. Is there a way to cite Julie as a source?

        1. I don’t think there’s a process for citing where terms derive from (but maybe I’m wrong?). In my view, it is more about ethics. I encourage narrative discussions that provide an opportunity to reference how terms and concepts “came to be.” In my previous role with CSU Channel Islands, we put “untethered” into practice with faculty development too. See this article for more info:



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