George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Learning

Providing Choice in Professional Learning About Artificial Intelligence

Here’s how one district edtech coach provides teachers with choice in PD on AI so that they can study what seems most valuable to them.

May 13, 2024
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Artificial intelligence (AI) is already having a major impact on education. To stay current and prepare learners for the future, teachers must build their AI literacy so that they can use emerging tools effectively and prepare students to navigate an evolving digital world. 

Professional development (PD) is an important part of this preparation. However, it can feel challenging to provide teachers with AI-related PD that meets their diverse needs and skill levels. As PD coaches, administrators, and educational leaders, we need to ensure that we personalize learning experiences so that all teachers are engaged and find the information relevant to their teaching context. 

While facilitating PD related to AI in education, I’ve successfully engaged all teachers by utilizing what Holly Clark termed an “explore board”—a board of learning choices that helps participants develop background knowledge while honoring their different interests. It’s a great addition to a blended learning approach.

The purpose of this strategy is to give teacher-learners opportunities to explore curated content, build knowledge about a specific topic, and feel a sense of choice and autonomy over their professional learning.

It also allows me to model a strategy that teachers can use to differentiate learning for students in their classrooms. Here’s how I apply the strategy to help teachers learn more about AI.

Curate resources

To begin, I gather links to the resources that I want to use when creating my board, such as articles, videos, images, and podcasts. I try to include a wide range of resources on the topic—in this case, on AI—to better meet individual interests. But I also try to tailor the resources to the specific PD audience. 

For instance, when I created an explore board for a group of career and technical education (CTE) teachers, I included resources that explained how AI is impacting the industries related to our CTE programs. 

Build the explore board

To build an explore board, I start with a template I have created using a Google Doc. I also used an AI-generated icon I created with Microsoft Copilot. I typically use a table that is three by four cells in size, but the size sometimes changes based on the number of resources I want to include. I merge the two center cells, and I use that larger space for guiding questions, directions, and opportunities to collaborate.

I use each of the 10 external cells for one resource. In each cell, I include the following points.

Image: If the resource is an online article, then I use its featured, or “hero,” image on my board. If the resource is a video, I take a screenshot of the thumbnail to paste onto the board. I adjust the image size so that it takes up about half of the cell. This organization provides a preview of resources to learners, as well as a way to help them remember which resources they have explored. (This strategy is also helpful for teachers with students who are struggling readers or English language learners, as it provides multiple means of representation—a tenet of Universal Design for Learning.)

Hyperlinked title: I add the title of the resource below the image. I hyperlink the resource to the title for easy access.

Emoji: I include an emoji at the start of the title as a visual cue for the type of resource. For example, a video gets a video camera emoji, and an article gets a book emoji. This structure provides participants with an easy way to see what kind of resource they are viewing, and it gives me a quick way to ensure that I have balanced the types of resources I provide. 

I don’t expect teachers to look at every resource; rather, they can choose those that they find most interesting and relevant to their work. Often, teachers will select from the board a resource that brings new questions to mind, sparking their curiosity and desire to learn more about that topic. 

I always encourage them to research beyond the items I’ve provided, to find answers to those questions and bring new learning back to the group. The most impactful learning takes place when teachers are self-motivated to seek out new information.

Add opportunities to collaborate

Next, I use the larger space in the center to write guiding questions for the activity. For example, I might pose open-ended questions such as “What are your biggest takeaways about AI? How might AI impact education?”

I add a link that allows participants to share their learning on a digital whiteboard, such as Figma. They can add digital sticky notes with their thoughts. I also encourage educators to add links to other useful resources that they find as they explore. 

This invitation helps to establish the feeling of a community of learners—one where we are all growing and contributing to collective knowledge. I have also, in certain instances, used one of the resources that a teacher shared in future PD sessions.

Implementation in PD

I like to incorporate the explore board strategy early on in a PD session. I typically start the session by having teachers share their current knowledge on the topic of AI. Then, I move into this activity as a way to build upon that knowledge and, sometimes, to address any existing misconceptions. 

As teachers add their new learning to the whiteboard, I read their responses and use those to launch discussions. For example, in a session with middle school teachers, several teachers added sticky notes that represented concerns about how AI use would impact academic integrity and issues related to plagiarism. Those notes opened up a whole group discussion about how we might address those issues as a district.

Follow-Up

I like to provide, as follow-up to the explore board activity, dedicated time for participants to explore and play with a few AI tools. This approach provides a good balance: time to learn more about AI, enough choice that they feel agency throughout the process, and time to improve their skills in using the tools themselves.

Providing teachers with professional learning on AI literacy can be challenging. However, by utilizing an explore board as part of a blended learning approach to PD, we can provide teachers with engaging learning experiences that support their use of AI tools to enhance teaching and learning.

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