The Learning Accelerator Blog/Top 10 Ideas for Knowledge Sharing in Education

professional development research & measurement

Top 10 Ideas for Knowledge Sharing in Education

by Jennifer Wolfe on May 10 2016

Over the last nine months, TLA has been engaged in a deep research effort to better understand teaching and learning in blended and personalized learning environments. We have learned a great deal and identified some really terrific practices at a number of schools nationally. We plan to share out as much as we can in an open source manner for others to use for their own work and purposes.

We know that how we engage in sharing will be nearly as important as what we share. Given this, we wanted to make sure we're smart about our knowledge sharing strategy. We decided it was time to invest in learning about knowledge sharing and ask questions of our stakeholders such as:

  • Where has knowledge sharing been done well?
  • How do folks in our field like to receive information?
  • What are the pros and cons of a number of modalities such as video, podcasts, webinars and others?
  • What are the most popular sites for teaching and learning resources?
  • Are there knowledge sharing examples in other fields we can learn from?

We convened several focus groups with participants from schools, districts, states, and professional service providers. For additional data, we conducted a survey containing a similar set of questions and pushed it out on social media and through partners. Our sample size was small, but reflected a quick snapshot of a segment of our key audiences in order to garner insights into preferences.

The conversations and survey results uncovered some very useful information for our field and we wanted to share some of our key take-aways:

  1. No one likes webinars. Isn’t actually that simple, but it turns out that webinars are very unpopular among teachers and not a well-liked modality, mostly because of the difficulty in scheduling a time that works well for teachers to attend. Our advice is to think carefully about whether you can deliver your resource or information in a more interactive, convenient, and engaging format.

  2. Make it modular. When designing your resource, make sure it is modular and can be broken down into bite-sized units. The best resources are those with content which is high quality and chunked.

  3. Video can be great, but not a panacea. Video can be powerful to introduce a concept or demonstrate a model, but keep it short (4 minutes or less) and make it available on YouTube so others can grab and embed in their own presentations or platforms. Videos can be hard to skim through for busy educators who are looking to quickly determine if there is something of value in the video for them, so make transcripts available if possible.

  4. Need to aim for as good as in-person. Teachers like seeing teaching and learning practices in person. Can virtual reality be an answer to providing this at scale?

  5. Content must be embeddable. Too many resources are siloed on platforms, so we need to find a solution for interoperability in the education field – embeddability is essential for teachers, school leaders and states. What can sharers do to create a solution to this?

  6. Start with the problem teachers need to solve. When our participants have a teaching practice problem, they most often start with a broad Internet search, get results and then vet the results based on whether the results point to reputable organizations with solutions. This was an “a-ha” moment for us, as we previously thought people would navigate directly to a site they respect and search there for a solution.

  7. Audio, but for what? Podcasts are popular for entertainment, but there is still a chasm to cross for people to use podcasts for work purposes. We believe it is worth exploring whether podcasts could be a successful modality for sharing deeper thought pieces and interviews.

  8. Playlists are good for adult learners, too. There is excitement in the field around personalized playlists but no one has gotten it quite right yet for educators. Working to figure out a system of tagging and curating resources around a particular challenge or problem would be a welcome addition to the field.

  9. Tweet it! Across the board, Twitter is an essential tool in the education space for sharing and accessing teaching and learning information.

  10. Screencasting. It is worth considering screen casting or animation with photography to provide clear and helpful step-by-step direction for teachers and students.

As we continue to think about what we learned from our investigation, I have realized that the mechanism for knowledge delivery is important but we also need to think deeply about what behavior we want the audience to engage in after accessing resources. We will be considering this as we develop our knowledge development and sharing strategy. I hope you will continue on this journey with us and share any insights you have on this topic with me at [email protected].

About the Author

Jennifer Wolfe is a Partner at The Learning Accelerator. Email comments to [email protected], and follow Jennifer @JenniferAWolfe.