Monday, January 25, 2010

The Best Professional Development day(s) ever? The Power of Technology

"I didn't learn a thing!"  "That was so boring!"  "What a waste of another day!"  Sick and tired of hearing comments like these after teacher development days.  There's another option.  It's time to use technology and technology power to enhance staff development.  It's time to move past the speaker, one topic model of PD day to a day of sharing, growing learning, being engaged, relevant and inspiring.  Time to see unlimited development full of collaboration, sharing best practices, and learning through the power of social media and learning networks.   During your professional development day, give teachers the time to join in and be inspired to learn from each other and from educators around the world.

Let's get things started.  Of course, dough-nuts and coffee first.  These are the main-stays to professional development.  Then how about modeling how to use these social media learning communities.  A technology coach would show how to join a group, how to write your blog for others to comment on, how to embed a video and how to link articles for others to read.  After the initial meeting, lets break out to classrooms and labs and start the conversation and sharing.

Afraid that staff won't accomplish anything and waste the day.  The hope is that teachers will be engaged, boredom isn't an issue.  Still worried.  Assign tasks for teachers to do.  For example, teachers will join 2 learning groups and make 5 comments and suggestions to these groups.  Teachers will start a blog and then comment on 5 colleges blogs.  Teachers will research 2 best practice articles to share with others using links.  Social learning communities will allow teachers to share ideas, but more importantly find new ideas, practices, and tools that will enhance there teaching.  We can easily check what they did by looking at there page.  Are they engaged? What did they learn? Do they have the skills to learn, share and grow through technology.?

After hours learning, sharing, and collaborating, lets come back for a time of celebration and praise.  Let's see who is the model citizens in the learning community and at the same time see the information and ideas that they have learned about, explored and shared.

So how do we set up this technology based day.  Let's start by creating a community in a free web 2.0 tool Ning.  With initial set up by a technology coach, teachers can easily be invited and the learning begin. Your network can be a private network or how about inviting your neighbor schools district to join in the sharing.

I would also suggest using twitter.  Sign up for an account and follow others and be followed.  Share best practices, learn about new trends and in general make yourself a better teacher.  For information on how to create an account view my presentation and twitter empowered teachers.

What's cool is development will begin within your schools walls during professional development day, but soon it will spread to sofas at home and in the coffee shop down the street.  It will be used during weekends, summer  vacations or whenever teachers have time to learn something new. You will harness a world of knowledge through local teachers and educators worldwide.  And it has been logged so that you can find post that interest you whenever, and wherever.

What do teachers want to learn about during professional development?  Things that are vital to there lessons plans tomorrow.  Things like, how can we improve reading?  What tools do you use?  How are you going to teach students the countries of Europe or the States of the USA?  A technology based PD (professional development) or PLN (professional learning networks) will bring teachers knowledge about topics, and new ideas to use and share. No more wasted time.  Let's give them what they want. relative topics that they can use.

PS:  Maybe by being involved in an learning community, teachers will see the power and develop ways to get students involved in these communities.  Wow, how cool is that?

Some good examples:

The personal learning network for educators

West Texas Digital Storytelling Collaborative

Video on the power of Personal Learning Networks

Comment by Rhonda Roysden 
Powerful! "Professional learning and collaboration can happen anytime, anywhere...even on the couch at home, while watching TV in your pajamas!" This hits home with me! Learning and collaborating in the comfort of my own home!

Does your school have a ning set up for professional development?  Do your teachers join groups to learn from each other?  Do teachers blog about what is working in there class? Do they share video tutorials about which teaching skills work the best.  The cool thing is that this can be done. Ning allows you to create and join new social networks for your interests and passions, with the intent on learning.

Example of an initial ning setup.


  1. I absolutely agree with your perfect PD day. This is what teachers need to see a purpose for using these collaborative tools. You hit it on the head, they want something they can use tomorrow.
    Thanks to my Twitter network I am connected to your blog!