Real-time Professional Development

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been focusing on professional development for my EdTech 543 class. I have been using Twitter to participate in different #chats and also participating in different webinars. The experience has been rewarding and enriching but not without its frustrations. What is clear to me is that by taking charge of my own profesional development, I feel empowered and know that I am driving my own learning in the areas where I am passionate. The downside is that there is no guarantee that the quality of the experience will be good.

The Twitter chats have been amazing. I returned twice in subsequent weeks to the same chat for new teachers #ntchat which is a great place to pass on knowledge to young teachers and to learn from them as well. The ‘feeling’ in the chat was welcoming and supportive and I followed a number of participants on both occasions. I was able to share advice on a  number of issues including good practice for parent conferences. Listening to other educators share their experiences in real time only helped to give me more ideas.

I also participated in the Connected Educator chat (#CE14) with Arnie Duncan which was a very different experience. The pace was fast and relentless and I wish I had known some of the tips I learned from Alice Keeler in a webinar later in the week. It was rewarding to join in with a wider range of educators and it was enjoyable when participants  retweeted or favorited a tweet – it give me a sense of validation – equal to anything I have experienced in face to face training.

The final chat which I took part in was #satchat which was another great experience. Lying in bed at 7.30 on a Saturday morning sharing learning experiences from my phone . . . not something that I could imagine myself doing just 12 months ago. We discussed game changers in education – which I took a little issue with semantically because  I’ve never seen education as a ‘game’. That aside lots of teachers sharing their favorite tools to use in class.

The webinars were more of a mixed bag. What I learned was just like any PD course or conference, there is often no way to know what quality to expect until you begin. I think as I become more experienced I will learn to source webinars from more ‘trustworthy’ sources. The first webinar was boring, dry and not engaging to me as a listener. I forced myself to sit through the presentation but did not ask questions. A learning curve. The second and third webinars were wonderful.

The second was a fast paced webinar on how to use Thinglink with google docs. Very useful and interesting and I listened attentively. My main contribution was to find out if there would be a recording to go back over the content. There was a chat box running throughout the webinar and I contributed by helping a number of people with questions as the session progressed. I forgot to take a screenshot of my contributions!

The third webinar was on how to use Twitter with Alice Keeler. She was fantastic and the hour sped by. I picked up a number of tips for how to use it and how to best use Tweetdeck for face paced conversations. There were a number of BSU students in the webinar and I am confident that they found it useful too.

The fourth and Final webinar too place today, hence my lateness in posting this blog. I wanted to wait and participate in a webinar which was linked to a hot topic in our school. I was scheduled to take part in one yesterday but decided that the content was not appropriate to my learning at the moment. Instead, I took part in an Education Week webinar on the future of Assessment from K-12 which was both enlightening and challenging. It made me feel confident that I am on the right track with assessment in my class – making assessments learning and engaging topics and making the most of formative assessment and quality feedback.

The result of this activity has been to open my eyes to how much is out there. I have already planned how to share this with staff in our school – cascading my learning.

Sometimes my questions were not answered – and I forgot to take screen shots because I was engaged in the learning. Next time I am going to use Voila to record the sessions myself to have my own copy. I have also realized that if the content is not what I expect or the quality is not up to my expectations, then I can just leave – unlike a real face to face where I would never walk out!

A great few weeks which has really impacted my learning. I have put together a google slideshow with annotated screenshots to act as evidence of my participation in the webinars and twitter chats.

Evidence of participation

Thanks  – as always comments welcome. 😉

Twitter as a source of Professional Development

I was really happy when I saw this module because I can say with hand on heart that the experiences I have had in just over a year of using Twitter have been transformational. Put simply, I am a better professional and teacher as a result of the things I have learned. If I can digress and put things into context a little. . .

Last year at this time I went to a PD day to listen to Will Richardson speak. He was inspirational in so many ways – especially with relation to social media. If you have never heard of him, and you are taking 543 you should look him up. Prior to that day, I had avoided Twitter with a venom. I assumed it was the haunt of those who could stand the Kardashians and other vacuous celebs. Watching TV journalism descend into, ‘who can read the most tweets’ was killing me!” So I stayed away. Big mistake – ignorance was not bliss.

I teach in an International school with pupils of over 60+ heritages. We use the UK and International curricula and we are connected with 20+ schools around the world who are in our group. We need to connect but in many ways we are an island in Boston  – a unique school in a unique educational environment. Twitter provided me with a way to connect.  Essentially I see it as advertising of ideas. You read something, create something, or have a question about something then share it. There is an anonymity and speed to it which makes it work well. There is a crowdsourcing aspect to it but also a ‘watch and see’ which works for me. I have gained so many good ideas in the last year. The down side is that you can follow too many people and have too much information thrown at you. Filtering is key.

Anyway, I have selected these 5 #’s to my TweetDeck for this module. #edchat #ukedchat #globaled #flipclass and #ipaded. They are not all new to me the first two are staples, but I can’t give them up. I have used ideas in my class that I have found directly on Twitter and had led CPD sessions in my school for staff who were interested.

Today alone I have found a source of some non-fiction apps for iPads, reflected on a growth mindset classroom which is a key component in raising standards and high performance learning in our school and read a blog post on iPads in Primary (elementary) education. All delivered to a screen in front of me. It is easy, convenient, flexible and appropriate for my needs. I am a convert. There are limitations, but why focus on them? For my whole career, teachers have talked about, ‘wanting to share’ and how, ‘talking to other professionals’ is the best PD. Twitter is one of the tools that makes that possible.

Tweet away.


Social Media 543 – First Blog post. Thoughts and reflections

I have to say that I am honestly very positive and relaxed about joining the four social networks. I have been using Twitter for about a year and have had a personal Facebook page since 2007. I have experimented with blogging a couple of times using Blogger but never WordPress. Diigo was new to me and after figuring out the basics, I like it. I have already shared it with my Leadership team and will set up a group for our elementary team and lead some training on it later in the year.  We use a lot of internet resources and it is a simple way to share, annotate and get staff involved across our school.

My only reservations and biases were with Facebook, which I think is in decline in a number of ways. Their heavy advertising, profiling and the constant battle with privacy issues makes me more wary of how relevant it will be in a few years. Young people are already drifting away. That said, I do check it daily and post family pics on my personal page to share so I am a little inconsistent. I’m looking forward to having my biases challenged.

My experiences with social media for my own professional development have changed markedly in the last 12 months. I thought Twitter was for following celebrities –  so I stayed away. As an elementary teacher, Facebook is not really an option as all pupils are under 13 and our school has a system for parental communication in place. To be honest until 12 months ago Social Media to me was Facebook. I was lucky enough to attend a local training session and one of the speakers was Will Richardson, who was inspirational. The other educators there were more switched on than I was and I got fired up. I signed up for Twitter that afternoon and have embraced it. I have learned so much from so many people sharing their ideas and links. I organized and led a session with my staff on the use of twitter and it was successful. Staff embraced it and I saw ideas in their classes that came directly from connections they had made on Twitter.  However, I have realized how many other things are out there that I am clueless about and am excited to expand my understanding. I don’t believe the world will, ‘unconnect’ and so social media in all it’s ever changing and emerging forms is going to be pivotal in my professional life.

I have not used social media as an instructional strategy with pupils in my environment. As I mentioned above, I have embraced Twitter  and encouraged other staff to do the same but that is really the limit of my experience. I am looking forward to that changing.

My expectations for the course are really simple, I want to learn, to develop new knowledge, skills and understanding. I hope to be able to share, connect, share some more and hopefully laugh along the way.