Monday, May 31, 2010

Houston we have a problem - Help crowd source our Professional Development

I'm preparing to help facilitate a Summer professional development institute focussed on helping high school teachers integrate technology to foster 21st century learning.  And I think we have a problem.  The problem isn't the brand new laptop, iPod touch, flip cam, microphone headsets and software we are giving teachers who participate.  The problem I think is reflected this anecdote from Will Richardson's blog:

At a collection of school leaders and IT people, one of the participants told the group that his school had bought a number of iPads for teachers and that they had scheduled a chunk of training on how to use them. Unfortunately for him, I had just read an exchange on Twitter where Gary Stager had made the point that I quickly made to the group: “You know, something like 1.3 million people have bought an iPad and I doubt any of them have gotten any “training” on how to use it.” The people in the room half chuckled, but one woman said “Our teachers won’t do anything with technology unless we give them training.”

After reading this my first thought was, hey, we're giving out the same consumer level devices which are sold without training by such high minded institutions as Walmart, yet we've slotted significant chunks of our training time to how you connect the device to the computer and how to download an app.  Are they really that hard to use? 

It does get a little more complicated when we look at the applications and software.  Our plans call for training on Moodle, Google Apps, social media, and screen casting (multi day trainings in and of themselves in a traditional model).  But aren't we really just saying make your teaching and learning environment accessible, authentic, interconnected, and multi-sensory.  

So I'm throwing out a few smaller brainstrorms in the hopes of pulling in some big guns from the interwebs. *yes, that  means you all,  in the hope that our little problem will demonstrate a bigger picture solution.  Or just tell me that I'm wrong.  It's how I learn.  

I call this Challenges not Training:

1.  "Use your iPod touch to share with a friend the fact that you just got an iPod touch"  Skills needed - Turn it on, connect to internet, set up e-mail or go to web based e-mail, compose a message, send. Variations: Set up facebook app, set up twitter app, record a voice memo and e-mail it, etc.

2.  "Use your flip camera to share a video or a picture with a friend the fact that you just got a flip cam"  Skills needed- Turn it on, record video or take still shot, export to computer, share via e-mail, facebook, twitter, upload to youtube, etc.

Make it a race, make it a cooperative activity (first group to get all to accomplish task), give prizes.

3. As for the applications:  "You have several students who are failing your course. They are disengaged during lectures, they consistently misplace their work, they seem more interested in texting notes to their friends than taking notes, and your worst fear is that they are recording your classroom using the camera on their cell phone.  What strategies and resources could you integrate into your lessons to engage your learners, make the material multi sensory, personally accessible, authentic and interconnected?"

I hope that at least few folks will take a moment to reply.  I and my group thank you in advance.  

1 comment:

Pete Spencer said...

Kit, I spent a fair amount of today pouring through the Alberta Teachers Association document on technology in education in addition to a some resources I have on "best practice" PD. One of the big ideas I took from these is the importance of teachers being part of a learning network. We need to get them linked together and to others outside of the workshop.

There is no way we can, in three days, teach them all the hardware, software, and "apps" so that they will remember them and be able to integrate them into their teaching when needed next year. The best thing we can leave them with is the belief in the power of a network of fellow professionals and the ability to build a strong one that is both local and worldwide.

It can't be all about building the network, but I believe our main goal should be to get them connected. The other uses and benefits of the tools for helping students learn content and so many other significant things can come during our follow up work together either in-person or virtually.

At least that's how I'm feeling this evening. I'm really excited about this process; that is, trying to squeeze the maximum benefit from this wonderful three-day opportunity for the teachers. I'm confident that we'll be successful. I look forward to hearing from others in your network on what they have done or would do with this type of opportunity.