Archive for the ‘professional development’ Category

Viral Professional Development is emerging in education as a viable method of increasing teacher engagement and learning. Using tools such as Twitter, rss readers, blogs, educational networks, and wikis, educators are collaborating on a grassroots level. This year at NECC, a panel discussion of educators on July 2nd at 1:30 pm CDT will be discussing and live Ustreaming a session to discuss viral professional development.

How did this panel discussion originate?

On Monday, September 17, 2007, Google launched the Google Presentation web application to their suite of services. News of this new service spread quickly through the blogosphere and Twitter and soon more than fifty different people made over 500 edits in a twenty-four hour period to one Google presentation. Since introduced, this presentation has been used by hundreds of people to begin conversations centered on free online tools used to weave a web of connections between people around the world.

As a result of this transformational experience, educators begin discussing the importance of sharing the changing nature of professional development and documentation of best practices in VIRAL professional development. The proposal was written in Google docs and since acceptance, an expanded group of educators around the world has used a wiki, elluminate, and a variety of tools to bring a collaborative, immersive viral PD experience to NECC and to people around the world.

Vicki Davis, moderator
Darren Draper
Kelly Dumont
Kristen Hokanson
Robin Ellis
Ryan Bretag
Beth Ritter-Guth
Carolyn Foote

Backchannel Presenters/ Moderators
John Maklary
Stephanie Sandifer

How can you participate?

At 1:30pm CDT on July 2, we will be participating in a NECC panel discussion that centers on the power of the network. During our presentation we hope to demonstrate to all those attending our session in person (and virtually), just how powerful global collaboration can be. Hence, we are asking for your participation in our presentation as well.

1) Join our Ustream

We will be streaming the presentation live on the Open PD Ustream channel at 1:30 pm CDT on July 2nd. You may watch here and participate in the conversation (and even ask the panelists questions).

2) Leave a comment on our voicethread

One way that you can participate now is by adding your voice to the VoiceThread below. Please take a few minutes and add your thoughts about the different tools depicted through images in the thread. We would truly like as many voices possible, offering a wide range of thought on the usefulness of the common tools we all use in our collaborations.

How do you use these tools? How are they important to your professional development? Please add your voice.

3) Join the conversation on the NECC Educational networking site

We’ve created a discussion thread to converse on this panel discussion at the NECC educational networking site.

Follow our most recent announcements.

All announcements and events pertaining to this session will be announced at the Walls Came Down wiki.


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Since NECC of 2007, and during several other conferences throughout the year there have been conversations taking place about a need to move beyond the echo chamber. Many educators see the value of web 2.0 tools and the potential for use in their own learning/professional practice and also classroom practices. For many they may be the only individual where they work who understands these tools, uses them in their own practice, and they may feel they are alone in what they are trying to do to begin conversations regarding incorporating web 2.0 tools to change practice in their own communities. The questions has been asked how we move beyond the echo chamber, how we inform others, bring new voices into this conversation, share what we believe is changing in the world, the way we communicate, use information and why education has to change as well. What are the new tools, how do we use them to our advantage in our personal growth. How do we use them to move classroom practice from what it is now, to a more engaged environment that extends beyond classroom walls, how do we connect students and teachers around the globe to collaborate and learn together.

In early March of 2008 Dennis Richard, Superintendent Falmouth Schools in Falmouth, Massachusetts started a conversation on Professional Development 2.0, because of his experience here –

”While I was at ASCD 2008 in New Orleans in March 2008, I started a conversation with some ASCD Leadership Council members and my online network of educators about the need for educators familiar with Web 2.0 pedagogies to spread the word about how they are successfully using the new 21st Century technology to improve student learning. That conversation has continued until today, April 3, 2008. We have less than a month to pool our collective intelligence to help ASCD do a “bang up” job for its membership in Orlando in March 2009 on technology and engaging students in learning. See the home page of this wiki, Learning beyond Boundaries for more details”.

He blogged and sent messages through Twitter to those in his network to read a proposal he was formulating. He wanted to take what he had learned in the past year to the decision makers at ASCD, Association School Curriculum Developers.

“The idea is to use my leadership role with ASCD (explained on the wiki under “The Conversation”) to “propose” more visibility for the web 2.0 pedagogy proposals so they are given due consideration for their importance and uniqueness and eventually to do the same for the selected presentations. I think major professional associations like ASCD are ready to acknowledge the important and transformational role technology must now play in our schools. We can have a significant influence on the quality of their conversation if we shift out of our traditional circles and bring stories of how students every day are deeply engaged in learning by teachers who are using web 2.0 pedagogies”.


ASCD’s theme for 2009 is Learning Beyond Boundaries persistence paid off, 102 educators have signed on to be collaborators and this message now appears on the wiki:

“I can’t believe it, but I have great news! Kathleen Burke, Director of ASCD’s Annual Conference accepts our offer and wants us to work with ASCD to develop a 3 year plan! More to come in the following days”.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. Margaret Mead 10:45 A.M. EDT, 5.5.08

I am happy to be part of such a group of committed citizens and I look forward to working with everyone to develop and implement the three year plan with ASCD. Thanks Dennis, for pushing beyond the echo chamber.

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Our OpenPD session this afternoon was designed to introduce blogging, my hope was the conversation would be beneficial for those in the class who are new to the concept and thinking about starting a blog of their own. Well once again my expectations were exceeded, and I am so grateful to all of those who participated today. Sue Waters was asked to join us and speak to those participating in class why she blogs, how she got started and if she would share any thoughts, and tip, for writing good posts. Well, Sue wrote a post about our OpenPD session, the topic for class, asking others contribute a comment on the impact their own blogging has had on them, their learning. It is full of interesting stories and suggestions, please take some time to read it. Sue also invited some other bloggers to join in the conversation as well; we were fortunate to have with us the following people:

Thank you all for making another session of OpenPD so worthwhile, I learned a great deal once again. I am grateful for the true sense of collaboration, and sharing everyone brings with them to class, what we are able to learn from one another is phenomenal. This is a wonderful experience for me. Sue thank you for all of your wonderful contributions to this class as well as your work in the edublogger world. On the wiki we do have an assignment for this coming week, look at and respond to 4 other blogs we have some listed on the participants page as well. Also to set up a blog at Edublogs so you are ready to start. Hope to see you all again next week.

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Tonight begins round three of OpenPD, we have made a few changes this round. The class will be held from 5:00 – 6:00 PM EDT, check your time zone here. We will have another face to face session joining us from the Magnolia School District in Texas. Jamie Gustin, who attended our last session of OpenPD, is now inviting teachers in his district to participate. All of the connection information is available on the wiki, we will be using Skype and Ustream as we have in the past, sign up for accounts if you have not already and plan on joining us. The agenda is posted, we will be starting with creating you own wiki and hope to move ahead to more advanced options in both wikispaces and also blogging.

We are looking forward to teaching the course again and also to having more people join us. It has been a wonderful experience and we anticipate the same for the following 5 weeks, see you tonight!

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The presentation to public and non public administrators yesterday went very well. Thank you to all who participated in the VoiceThread, it was one of the tools that provoked the most attention, especially after hearing what many of you had contributed to the conversation. The majority of people in both sessions were not aware of the ability for anyone to join online networks, (other than students) but then again many had not heard the term Web 2.0 or Read/Write web either, so we spent time talking about the evolution of the Internet over the past several years as well. From my experience I have found administrators are more comfortable talking about what they don’t know when in the company of their peers, more so than when in the company of their building faculty. Yesterday, there were many questions which were great.


I asked all who attended to be advocates for teachers in their buildings or districts, teachers who may come to them asking to use a tool an IT department may have blocked. I asked them all to believe in their staff, really to go to bat for them, because I know many classroom teachers do not feel as though they could ever “win” against IT. And rather than make the argument themselves, they give up at the first “access denied”. We need to have technology literate administrators, just as Karl Fisch and Terry Freedman blogged sometime last year about it is no longer ok to be a technologically illiterate teacher; I feel the same way about administrative staff as well. How are classroom teachers to move forward without support and understanding of what they are trying to accomplish from their building leaders? If the people in decision making positions are unaware of the tools and the possibilities those tools provide for students and learning then I’m afraid any significant change is light years away.


I hope to be able to have administrative staff development in my district this summer, 300344706_bf2a918634.jpg and I hope as a result of yesterday’s sessions there may also be the possibility of offering something similar for all districts through the Intermediate Unit, as was done yesterday. I get impatient I know, thinking so many in people in leadership roles have no idea of the types of networks and collaborations we have at our fingertips. The resources we have available to one another and the sharing that takes place 24/6/365. I have to find a way to bring that awareness to my district.
Here is a link to a wiki I would like to use in the summer for any staff development I do on social networking, networked learning. Thanks to anyone who contributes.

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Tomorrow, Wednesday February 27, I will be presenting the Bucks County School Administrators Association meeting. This is the first time I will be presenting to a group of administrators outside of my own district so there is a level of anxiety on my part. The topic I am speaking on is Participating and Learning in Global Communities. I have spoken to several people about presentations to a group like this, and what everyone has said is, talk about your own connections, Open PD, the fact that you can tap into the experiences and expertise of a global, passion based classroom online. So I hope to be able to convey my thoughts and feelings of participating in this networked world wide learning community. The impact on my personal and professional learning has been exponential, I never imaged I would have other educators so willing to help and collaborate with. I have created and published a VoiceThread asking anyone interested to follow the link and leave their own thoughts on how participating in global communities has made an impact on their learning and also talk about how these connections may have influenced their classroom practices. There have been 10 people who have recorded their thoughts, please feel free to add your thoughts as well. I think I am ready and I also believe it won’t be so bad; I believe I have a better understanding of the topic than most of those who will be in attendance.


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My head is still spinning from the weekend spent in Philadelphia at EduCon held in the Science Leadership Academy. So many have written such memorable accounts of the weekend I am not sure I can say anything that has not been said already many times over. For the entire three days I felt as though I was totally immersed in an educational community of caring. Caring for students, for each other, for our practices, for the future of education – both students and our own. The common thread, which brought us all there in my opinion, whether in person or virtually, was our commitment to expanding conversations centered on how to improve our classroom practices, our thoughts on professional development, building community with our colleagues, in our own district or around the world, as well as with our students. Throughout the weekend I kept thinking how wonderful it is to be part of such a supportive, passionate community of educators and students. I thank you all for stretching my thinking, for renewing my spirit to continue being an advocate for change, for pushing the envelope day in and day out because it is the right thing to do for students, and because I know I am one node in a network of dedicated learners and in our own ways we are all agents of change. I truly believe we can make a difference.

Darren Draper and I lead a session in the morning called OpenPD based on the online class we teach. The class is an introduction to using social software in the classroom and we use social software to teach it. We had a room full of people interested in professional development, interested in best practices involved in providing it, wonderful conversation flowed regarding successes and challenges we all face. If you are interested here is a link to the archived Ustream broadcast of our session. Be patient, it takes a bit to download and the audio doesn’t begin for the first 15 minutes. In talking about new tools for teachers and students, new levels of comfort, shifts in thinking, we model the use of the tools we talk about with those who attend. We believe we’re on to something here, and invite all of you to come and participate with us as we learn best practices in teaching how to use social software in the classroom.

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