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Designing Effective, Personalized and Differentiated Professional Learning in a Virtual World

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Listen and learn : Lecture

Dr. Michael Bloemsma  
jill Bromenschenkel  
Jessica Falkenthal  
Larissa Walder  

How do we meet the challenge of designing effective and engaging professional learning in an online environment? Learn how we have organized over 30 successful unconferences at San Francisco Unified School District, CUE San Francisco and districts across the country. The model has received positive teacher feedback and demonstrated immediate impact in the classroom.

Audience: Professional developers, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Will be able to better participate and access resources if attendees have a device with a web browser that can access the Internet.
Topic: Professional learning
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Professional Development and Program Evaluation
  • Conduct needs assessments to inform the content and delivery of technology-related professional learning programs that result in a positive impact on student learning.
For Education Leaders:
Empowering Leader
  • Empower educators to exercise professional agency, build teacher leadership skills and pursue personalized professional learning.
For Educators:
  • Pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participants will understand, be able to lead and replicate the professional learning model and systems used for our schools in their own community. They will also learn about our challenges, iterations, and successes and how we were able to facilitate truly effective cross-site collaboration among educators, by bringing teachers together from multiple sites to one virtual campus for an unconference.

We will provide examples of unconference learning maps, collaborative notes, educator feedback, and evidence of application and classroom impact.

Description of model employed: An unconference is a professional development offering driven by educators for educators. This model allows for teacher input on what session topics and choice in which conversations they want to attend. Sessions are interactive and bring together a group of people with similar interests or expertise so that they can learn from one another.


-Participate in a super-mini UnConference
-Share out your experience
-Listen & Learn: our unconference story
-Gather resources
-Reflect & think forward!

Supporting research

Educators’ perspectives on the impact of Edcamp unconference professional learning (

Edcamp unconferences: Educators' perspectives on an untraditional professional learning experience (

Why Edcamp Is the Future of PD (

Unconference: Revolutionary professional learning (

How Teachers Can Learn From One Another at Unconferences, Meet-ups and Edcamps (

More [+]


Dr. Michael Bloemsma, San Francisco Unified School District

Dr. Michael Bloemsma has over 20 years of experience as a classroom teacher, professor, and technology leader at the school, district, and county levels. Michael works as a Program Administrator of Technology & Innovation in the Department of Technology where he supports many of the 1:1 Technology initiatives in the district. Michael helps school site administrators, teachers, and coaches to leverage technology and key pedagogies to transform the learning experience for SFUSD students. Michael is also the current Vice President of the local CUE San Francisco affiliate.

jill Bromenschenkel, Connectivity Learning
Jessica Falkenthal, Jessica Falkenthal and Associates

Jessica Falkenthal is a community building and learning experience design specialist for education startups, schools and nonprofits. She previously worked in youth development for National 4-H Council and Boys and Girls Club. Jessica currently serves on the SXSW EDU Launch Advisory Board and CUE San Francisco’s Executive Board where she leads unconference programming for educators. Jessica has led professional development workshops for thousands of educators, managed more than a dozen online learning communities, designed and led technology leadership programs for teenagers and led growth of the Startup Weekend Education program worldwide. Jessica studied informatics and instructional systems technology at Indiana University.

Larissa Walder, Redwood City School District

Larissa Walder is a cheesehead from Wisconsin who originally moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for college. Her passion for science and for working with people led her into a career in science education, where she has had the chance to teach middle school science, develop hands-on science curriculum, and currently supports science educators as an instructional coach. Outside of her work and time spent learning, Larissa can be found hiking, biking, and exploring the food scene of San Francisco, or looking at random insects in parks.

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