I think about the many times I attended professional development or training sessions as a teacher and how often much of it was done at the beginning of the year, during semester transitions or during staff development days throughout the year. Much like this image ironically titled "Creative Strategies for Professional Development," it was a lot of sit and get.
As I later transitioned into an education consultant, many of the workshops were scheduled and dictated by the district or the school administrators typically revolving around a new program, textbook adoption or technology that was being implemented. For the most part it was something that was scheduled for me and given down to me to absorb and apply, much like instruction that is often given down to students. We have all been accepting and open to the notion of collaboration and facilitating learning with our students, but yesterday I followed my steps in the development of my own learning and the facilitation by the online community and through community micro-blogs like Twitter.
Yesterday, I was going through my daily Twitter fix and reading the micro-posts for the morning and I came upon this tweet:
I met David at NECC / NECC Unplugged this year. This little post intrigued me as small as it was because I follow David Warlick's blog on my Google Reader and have grown very fond of the information he shares and his approach to teaching and learning in this age of technology and it's application to classrooms around the world.
Two points of interest... 1) The fact that I decided to seek out my own PD on my own accord through unconventional formats, on my own time, to me, was cause for amazement. 2) The micro-blog communication from (paulhami) with a shrinkify.com or "tiny url" link that drew me to the content.
So here I am connecting with someone I don't even know, clicking on a link that I have no idea what it will bring up other than the subject is something/someone I know. Then the cool stuff happened. It was one of those feelings as a kid when you opened your crackerjacks box and you pulled out the little paper wrapped gift inside the box. The unknown suprise.... and not always good I might ad. But this was good. The link pushed me out to a Ustream live video feed of a PD session that David was conducting at the New hapshire Society for Technology in Education's Christa McAuliffe Conference (NHCMTC).
All of this from a tiny Twitter post by "paulhami" who I have researched further and now know as Paul Hamilton who has left more thatn 1,944 tweets, and I just happened to come upon # 1,943.
So going back to the online Ustream session with David... Needless to say the session was informative, content rich and full of great applications. As I was following the live feed and interactions on Ustream, naturally, I was multitasking as were the other attendees online from all over the world. From the image above, you can see that folks were able to share their comments, ask David or the entire group questions and provide additional insights and their own experiences. Along the way, folks were sharing additional links and information. The moderator shared the workshop handouts via a link. (How just-in-time is that?)
This brought me to yet another step in my online PD journey. The title of the session was: Our Students, Our Worlds. The handout link included the following additional links/resources.
And if that wasn't enough, the handouts were not your typical PDF version of paper handed out at the session, it was stored on a Wiki with links and resources and threaded discussions by various contributors (of course, links to blog posts by others on this topic.)
All of that said, I will leave you with a quote from the session that all started with a click.
We are preparing our children for a future we can not clearly describe!
I would venture to say that we are also preparing our teachers for a future we can not clearly describe. The traditional approach of acquiring knowledge by someone coming to our facility or based on a calendar or school schedule will more than likely need to change or include these virtual interjections. While I've participated in several live feeds and online distant learning events, the process for how I ended up hear lead me to believe that there was something here. I felt I needed to document these steps as they were all driven by the community and extended in ways that leveraged the learning community as a whole. This is truly a PD learning curve for me.
A side note to this topic and a question I throughout to the group... Wouldn't it be nice if there was a place or a tool that allowed you to view the aggregated list of live PD video streams or topics that you could click to and quickly get a list of sessions happening at that moment or a particular day? There are aggregators for key blogs, resources, but not for live video feeds. At least I am not aware of one. If anyone knows of anything like this, I would definitely like to now about. I guess because of the "live" factor, it may not be likely as it happens just-in-time.