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Practitioner Inquiry as Professional Development - August 28, 2012 Webinar

Written by Erin Wilkey Oh
September 14, 2012

In a recent installment of the webinar series, Bud Hunt and Cindy O’Donnell-Allen facilitated a conversation about teacher inquiry as a method of professional development and questioned whether teacher inquiry practices align with the connected learning model. The webinar, titled Teacher Research is Connective Learning: Practitioner Inquiry as Professional Development, included moderator Howard Rheingold and participants Pam BrownBob Fecho, and Jonathan Becker

This discussion follows on the heels of a related webinar, facilitated by Elyse Eidman-Aadahl only two weeks prior, in which participants considered how the connected learning model could translate for adult learning in the workplace. In some ways, the webinar with Hunt and O’Donnell-Allen feels like a continuation of this interesting and relatively new conversation about connected learning for adults.

Hunt and O’Donnell-Allen begin by presenting various definitions of teacher inquiry and teacher research. Though the definitions have shades of difference, they all boil down to one basic characteristic, which is that teacher inquiry involves educators intentionally investigating questions they have about their own teaching practices.

Teacher inquiry is not a new idea for educator professional development; in fact, organizations like the National Writing Project have long made opportunities for teacher inquiry a primary focus. However, teacher inquiry has not commonly been part of school- or district-sanctioned professional development. And this is what Hunt and O’Donnell-Allen are interested in making a reality. (Check out one of Bud Hunt’s current projects – Digital Learning Collaborative)

Toward the end of the conversation, O’Donnell-Allen brings the focus back to connected learning and draws parallels to show ways that teacher inquiry aligns with the principles of connected learning. She points out that teacher inquiry is done in community. Inquiry groups like the National Writing Project’s Teacher Inquiry Communities Network support educators as they follow their burning questions and seek to understand and improve their work with students. O’Donnell states that knowledge gained through inquiry creates a responsibility for teachers to share that information beyond the classroom.

The participants close by discussing how to start a teacher inquiry group and how to establish teacher inquiry as part of a school-sanctioned professional development program.

Check out the full hour webinar below. And visit the webinar archive page to see time markers for specific topics and learn more about the participants and hosts.

Watch live streaming video from connectedlearningtv at

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