Monday, January 28, 2008

Professional Development and Web 2.0 Thoughts

This morning I was going through my "twits" and saw Kate Olson's post, which then led me to her blog Reflection 2.0. Her state is requiring teachers to create professional development plans as part of their licensing. I happen to think this is a wonderful idea. Georgia has something a bit similar, but it is integrated into our teacher evaluation instrument and not nearly as detailed or as demanding as what she has posted in her blog entry.

In my position, I am at liberty to pursue whatever types of professional development I deem necessary for my job. I enjoy this flexibility, but at times feel like I am wandering without a clear sense of direction concerning where I want to be a year from now. Web 2.0 has done this to me! Don't get me wrong, I love everything that I am encountering, but I am overwhelmed by it all. It excites me, but then I become stressed when I think about the most effective way of sharing what I have learned with my school district. As the lone Instructional Technologist for a 12,000 student district with 16 schools, the task is daunting.

My first attempt to introduce Web 2.0 tools has gone fairly well. I am a co-chair of the Continuity of Student Learning sub-committee of the Pandemic Flu Planning committee. Short version? How do we continue to educate our students in the advent of mass sickness or other emergency that would shut down our schools. In order to organize our work, I created a wiki, which I introduced at our first meeting. We have representatives from each of our schools, so that was at least sixteen people who have been exposed to wikis who weren't before. So far so good, but that's not exactly the type of use I had in mind. I want these tools in the classroom, and I'm concerned that by using them for this type of activity that they'll be seen as "administrative" tools. Perhaps I'm worrying for nothing?

Regardless, I'm not having a lot of luck getting the word out. I am and will continue to offer classes using and incorporating Web 2.0 tools in spite of the less than tepid response. Translation - my inbox is NOT flooded with people wanting to take any of the courses. I think the next plan of action is to work with those facilitating courses teachers are more likely to be involved with, and seeing how I can coerce convince them to incorporate Web 2.o technologies into the delivery framework. Covert versus overt? Is that the way?

Photo Credit: uyanum on Flickr

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kolson29 said...

Thanks for finding and linking to me! In my humble opinion, I think that by introducing these tools to teachers first in the context of how they make THEIR life easier, it will be easier to help them see how it will make teaching and learning more effective. So, by introducing teachers to the tools in an administrative setting, you're showing how effective wikis are, therefore planting the idea. Maybe it'll help them see the value of the wiki as somewhere for students to access info from home if they miss a day due to illness or an appointment. Who knows, there are lots of potential applications, as you well know! It would be a great idea to teach other classes using blogs, screencasts, etc just to show the power of the tools. It can be so overwhelming, I agree - I have to remind myself to take a step back and really focus on one thing at a time. Good luck :-)