We offer staff development classes that are aligned with 8th grade student technology skills and we approach technology staff development as though it were something we have completed after everyone has taken their assessments and demonstrated their proficiency.Â The truth is that technology is changing so rapidly that there needs to be continual education for learners.Â Arranging a staff development class entails arranging time, place, and trainer.Â It is often frustrating to the learner because there is either too much information or not enough depending on the users level of knowledge and interest.
Learning often takes place in a more permanent and efficient way when it happens at the exact point that it is needed.Â Â A lesson plan calls for a specific task and a teacher needs instructions on how to complete that task.Â If the experience is successful then there will be repeat experiences and the initial knowledge will be a basis to build on.Â If that teacher is supplied with a vehicle in which to communicate that experience that is not only easy to use but allows for relevant sharing of information then the knowledge base will grow and be enhanced by the input of others with similar experiences.
The vehicle of blogging gives anyone with access to a computer a voice and the system of allowing comments offers immediate feedback. This can take place in a protected environment limited to a community of our choice, or it can be open to the entire world which gives access to a much more diverse source of knowledge.Â The convenience of being able to enter the dialog any time or place would promote integration of staff development.Â Instead of having to take several hours or an entire day, staff development is embedded in our job experience and tailored to individual needs.Â Users can link to specific information or print what they need.
Accountability and collaboration happen naturally as bloggers benefit from being a part of a community of lifelong learners that develops with the give and take of comments and shared expertise. Our mission statement is to create lifelong learners and blogging about our experiences with technology and it’s use in education is one way we can model that for our students.
Would like to hear more opinions about this.
You are right on the money here. The best professional development (that is free) that has ever been invented is the ability to subscribe to meaningful edubloggers and participate in conversations that are on the cusp of innovation. The inspiration of others combined with the partial reinforcement of meaningful comments transform edubloggers into eduinnovators. I believe that participation in and reading of edublogs is something that school administrators should be requiring of their teachers. What better way for administrators to keep up with what teachers are doing than to read their blogs on a daily or weekly basis or even better to read their student blogs on a weekly basis. Administrators become virtual observers AND participants in their school. Teachers become participators and content creators. Education improves and motivation and meaning improves. It is difficult for many teachers because they feel like islands. When they see other teachers in their same subjects in others schools making a difference and experiencing similar things, it helps them find their purpose again.
Edublogging can literally transform teaching if we stop blocking blogs and wikis and begin harnessing them for improvement!
Uh oh…I’m going to be Devil’s Advocate here.
Part of our staff development issues stem from powers beyond our control – TEA and NCLB just to name a couple of them. When those entities tell us what we have to do, it’s up to us to figure out how to do it. We’ve tried several different things and have been relatively successful. At least we’ve been able to check off some boxes. You can’t say that our teachers have had to do the same thing year after year. With our new leadership in the technology department, I’m sure that the next few year’s staff development will look different again.
I totally agree that blogging/edublogging is a wonderful tool that we all should be using (Present company included…I’m only a hitchhiker on blogs right now!). But…be realistic. Look at how many people haven’t updated their web presence in two years. How many of them will regularly participate in blogs? Remember how many hands we had to hold to get teachers through the online communication modules? I get a rigor just thinking about it!
All I know is that I’m ready to see how the new technology staff designs new, innovative, and challenging technology staff development. It ought to be interesting!
Thanks, Denise – I need someone to play devil’s advocate with me because I know I tend to fly out there pretty far. I think that several things would be key here. If we are able to set up something in house that is fairly simple to use to get everyone started, if we are able to change the thinking behind it – make it fun, cool, and show that there are built in rewards, and the feedback. I get the impression that most teachers think their website just sits there static and no one really looks at that stuff much. The ones who do update and utilize their sites are getting communication either from parents or students. I get excited when I get comments on my little blog – it’s personal, like getting a letter from a freind in the mail. I know there are some teachers who will never participate unless they are required to and then they will do only as little as required. That is sad but it’s okay if the ones who do participate creatively outnumber those who don’t. I hope we are able to take things a step further and crate wikis as repositories for the ideas we find that work, for lesson plans and ideas that teachers can add to or go to find information others have added. It could be a respository for the best material we come up with and a visible accessible format to show what we are doing and a way to measure it’s effectiveness. It’s change and there is risk and I know change comes slowly but I think it’s time. I have a feeling it won’t be long and you will stop hitchhiking and be in the drivers seat with the “blog bug” yourself LOL
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