Turbocharging teacher professional development in the age of AI

Turbocharging teacher professional development in the age of AI

At a time when technology and education research are advancing at an unprecedented pace, Australian schools face a pivotal challenge – ensuring that teaching and learning resources not only keep up but also harness these innovations to transform educational experiences.

In 2024, Australian education stands on the brink of a new frontier in modern teaching and learning, thanks to the increasing integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into professional development programs for teachers.

Fortunately, this revolution is emerging as a critical pathway to drastically improving teaching standards and student outcomes alike.

Across Australia, education service providers are building AI into their offerings for schools, helping principals, teachers, administrators, and students do more with less. For many schools, the teaching and learning tools they onboard are relative to their specific needs within their own contexts, but the offerings of some service providers are so comprehensive that they tick just about every box.

Encyclopedia Britannica, “the world standard for knowledge since 1768”, undoubtedly fits this bill.

Today, Britannica Education continues this legacy by collaborating with schools and educators across Australia, New Zealand, and Asia to tailor educational experiences that foster engaged learning. The organisation’s solutions are meticulously designed to meet the unique needs of students, educators, librarians, and knowledge seekers around the world.

By offering comprehensive instructional content, Britannica Education integrates future-ready skills seamlessly into each educational journey, ensuring that teachers' professional development and students' learning outcomes are enhanced.

Britannica's legacy in the digital era

Britannica Education’s Education Consultant, Zeina Chalich said many people’s earliest memories of learning for the pleasure of it, come from browsing through family copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

“In 2024, while we’re no longer printing encyclopedias, we’re proud to continue to be a source of truth and a provider of high-quality and trustworthy educational content - something that’s become more important than ever in this age of AI,” Chalich told The Educator.

“Today, our presence in Australian K-12 schools is marked by our comprehensive digital tools that blend our trusted content with proven technology that amplifies learning experiences.”

Used by hundreds of schools across Australia, Britannica Education’s digital resources, such as Britannica School, offer a wealth of high-quality, fact-checked and vetted information and multimedia content across subject areas, tailored to different learning levels.

“Our platforms provide safe, secure, and reliable spaces for students to foster critical thinking, research skills, and digital literacy - aligning with the Australian Curriculum.”

Recently the organisation launched Britannica Professional Learning – a dynamic suite of services designed to not only help schools effectively incorporate Britannica resources into instruction, but to also provide training, tools, and inspiration in areas like digital and media literacy, teaching with generative AI, and more.

Transforming AI into a powerful ally for teachers

When it comes to the type of professional development that Australian teachers are looking for the most in 2024, Chalich said tools that “creatively marry the best resources”, including technology, with the best in pedagogical research, stand out the most.

“They aim to effectively leverage digital tools to boost student engagement and enhance learning outcomes, particularly in fostering critical and creative thinking, collaboration, and communication skills,” Chalich said.

“At Britannica Education, we're responding to this need with targeted programs focusing on digital literacy, inquiry learning, literacy and STEM, all underpinned by best pedagogical practices.”

Chalich said Britannica Education is especially excited to pioneer professional learning around teaching with generative AI.

“Our goal is to equip educators with the knowledge and tools to responsibly utilise AI's potential, transforming it into a powerful ally for enriching educational experiences rather than a point of concern,” she said.

“Our professional development goes beyond mere technology integration; we aim to empower teachers to craft personalised, inclusive, and stimulating learning experiences that resonate with students' strengths, interests, and motivations.”

Fully aware of the growing teacher workload, Britannica Education’s programs are designed to bolster teacher effectiveness and support well-being, noted Chalich.

“By integrating our high-quality Britannica digital resources with exemplary pedagogical practices, we offer practical, engaging sessions that have a real impact on teaching and learning, today and into the future.”

Leveraging data to foster self-directed, reflective learners

Data and data analytics are becoming increasingly important tools for educators, especially as AI technologies continue to evolve. Chalich said Britannica Education’s resources are helping schools adapt to this shift by improving supports for teachers and leaders in tracking and improving student outcomes in a meaningful way.

“Britannica Education's resources support educators in using data analytics to track and improve student outcomes,” she said.

“Tools like Expedition: Learn! - our digital learning platform containing ready-made science lessons - provide teachers with access to real-time data on student engagement and performance.”

Chalich said educators can use this data to identify learning gaps, monitor progress, and tailor instruction to individual needs.

“Expedition: Learn! also offers insights into trends and patterns in student learning, enabling teachers to make informed decisions and adapt their teaching strategies for better results,” she said.

“The platform also provides opportunities for self-assessment by learners, which is a great way for students (and teachers) to track pace, progress and reflect on learning.”

Chalich said by providing the tools to allow students to self-check answers as they are moving through lessons, Expedition: Learn! provides timely feedback and helps to foster self-directed, reflective learners.

“In addition, teachers save precious time that would have previously been spent on marking, potentially saving hours each week.”

Empowering teachers to meet the needs of diverse learners

Looking ahead, Chalich said the most significant opportunities for Australian K-12 schools to improve teaching and learning lie in leveraging technology to create more personalised and inclusive learning environments.

“Accessible and inclusive learning is at the heart of Britannica’s solutions, and our resources see a host of new and updated features and functionalities introduced each year, to make Britannica content more engaging and accessible to every learner,” she said.

“Our new Professional Learning services in particular, represent a shift in the way Britannica is working with schools across Australia. No longer just a provider of educational materials, we’re committed to partnering with schools to not only maximise the impact of our resources, but to effectively deliver a 21st century education that elevates educational outcomes.”

Chalich said Britannica Education’s flexible continuum of professional learning services span everything from product education, to training on pedagogical strategies and best practices, to fully customised Professional Learning programs aligned to school objectives and continuous improvement goals.

“Our Professional Learning services are designed to help educators to meet the learning and wellbeing needs of the diverse range of learners in their classes, and to create inclusive, engaging, and differentiated learning experiences that enable each student to work in ways that align with their unique needs and abilities.”

Britannica Education Australia released a free whitepaper today, exploring the importance of media literacy for the digital era. To access the white paper, click here.