Wow, the start of school always seems to accelerate everything. I haven’t even had a chance to mention that I’m going to do two sessions and a panel at the second annual K12 Online Conference. I heard great things about it last year, and decided to submit a few things. And then Kevin Jarret, my Second Life buddy, said, hey, lets do a panel on Second Life, and I wrote up the description for that too. So all three got accepted! One of those woo-hoo/uh-oh moments.
After seeing some of the cool presentations at the Office 2.0 conference, and seeing Kevin Jarrett dazzle with an Animoto video for the Second Life panel, I decided to upgrade from the usual slideshow. K12 Online asks you to prepare teasers for your session, so this was great way to try out some modern multimedia skills on something short.
Here’s my session teaser – it’s on YouTube, so hopefully it’s not getting blocked. Here’s a link to it on TeacherTube as well. (For some reason, the TeacherTube video is fuzzier, even though it was a higher resolution export. Mysteries of life…)
The session will be challenging assumptions about technology professional development. The track for this session is “Obstacles to Opportunities.” I think an obstacle can be widely held assumptions that cause us to wear blinders about innovative solutions. We hear a lot of “conventional wisdom” about how limited classroom technology use is caused by either lack of, or poor professional development. I’ve got some interesting data on that from several sources that refutes this.
The second half of this session looks at the concept of “community of practice” and how teachers’ learning about technology takes place within a community. For most teachers, the primary place they do their work (their practice) is the classroom. Many professional development courses recognize the power of learning withing a community, and seek to create a secondary community of practice with the teachers taking the course. However, very few professional development experiences happen in the teacher’s primary community of practice. Therefore, by exploring this untapped area, we may find hidden opportunities to support learning for the teacher in their primary community of practice.
By looking to the students as participants in that teacher’s primary community of practice, and treating them as co-learners, you can situate the teacher’s learning about technology back into the classroom. These opportunities can be just-in-time, support a model of the teacher as a life-long learner, far less expensive than in-class coaching, and promote students into a role of full participants in the effort to improve learning for themselves, their peers, and teachers.
Essentially, this session is about pushing against the boundaries of what we call community of practice in technology professional development, and seeing what opportunities occur to us. Looking past assumptions and “that’s how we’ve always done it” is the way to turn obstacles into opportunities.
Looking forward to seeing you online at the K12 Online Conference in October.