Blogging Professional Development Pre-requisite: Must be willing to travel the world and back again in your jammies

In my last two posts I’ve written about how I very quickly established a personal learning network online (my community of communities) and how I’ve begun to track my favorite bloggers through my RSS aggregator. You can tell by one look at my blogroll on the right that I’m following some very authoritative voices in Web 2.0 and education as well as some fellow Teacher-librarian bloggers that I’ve connected with through various social networking sites.

I listened to almost the entire k-12online08 conference on my iPod on the bus coming to and from school each day over the last 3 weeks with interest and excitement. This truly is an exciting time to be an educator. I get hyped up by the possibilities and strategies employed by teacher librarian power-bloggers like Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog and Joyce Valenza’s Never Ending Search Blog. At Doug Johnson’s suggestion in “Blogging and The School Library Media Specialist” I added myself in fascination to the the growing number of librarians worldwide on the Librarian Bloggers Worldwide site . I get hyped up by reading blogs like Will Richardson’s New MacArthur Study: Must Read for Educators .

Yet I also truly relate to the Comment to that blogpost by Shirley Smith:

Then there are the days when I can’t seem to convince anyone to pay attention–regardless of the latest research.
I would be interested in someone writing–or pointing to– a “vignette” that would describe what a typical day would look like in this new world/education order. Provide a glimpse that could help bridge the gap from fantasy to reality so the regular classroom teacher could see herself “there”.

Back here in my little corner of the world, and south-east corner of my school, how do I connect with those teachers across and down the hall and help re-define best practices for today’s high school learners? As Dennis Richard states in the k12online08 podcast- There’s Something Going on Here You Need to Know About . . . how does one ” break out of The Echo chamber to introduce their work and web 2.0 technology to a much wider diverse circle of educators “?

Another question that I’ve been pondering over the past couple of months is why I’ve never met visionary and experienced web 2.0 practitioner Darren Kuropatwa. He teaches in my school division and even in the same district! I used to teach two blocks away when I was working in one of his high school’s feeder elementary schools. I’ve visited his school on many occasions for Teacher librarian meetings or to get my flu shot. I’m following him on Twitter and have visited many of his blogs while at home in my jammies and with my dog at my feet, but have never seen his name outside the “web 2.0 echo chamber” (except for an article in the Manitoba Teacher Society newsletter last year).

I know from Darren’s “A Difference” blog that he has provided professional development opportunities for teachers in our shared district, division and province. I have a rare and unique opportunity to request a classroom visit and perhaps even capture that “vignette” that would describe what a typical day would look like in this new world/education order” that Shirley Smith commented on. That would be of true interest to my colleagues.

Yet that doesn’t entirely address the situation stated by Will Richardson in his New MacArthur Study:Must Read for Educators post that educators “have to be more willing to support this type of learning rather than prevent it, but as always, we have to understand it for ourselves as well.”

I find myself in a unique situation in my school division, especially as a Teacher-librarian. I was asked to chair the Senior Years Educational Technology Mentors Group this year. This group meets 5 times a year and has one or two representatives from each high school in the division, and my role along with 3 other steering committee members is to help set the agenda. At the suggestion of the mentor’s last session we’re going to be doing a Knowledge Management Session with ICT Mentors next month. That is, we’re going to use a wiki to create a list of who has experience and expertise in different ICT courses offered through the division. I’m going to ask participants to read and reflect upon Will Richardson’s blog post and the related comments to “The Less You Share The Less Power You Have.” The more exposure others have to how powerful the sharing nature of the read/write web can be – the better!

Will Richardson makes some very good suggestions for getting started with blogging with colleagues close to home in his book: Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. He suggests blogging for knowledge management and articulation for staff to communicate internally, archive minutes, collect links and relevant information, store documents and presentations for easy access later on. At the division level educators can share best practices, lesson plans and “learning objects” (pg. 25) . We have the beginnings of such a blog for the senior years educational technology mentors in my school division but as of today only two members have contributed, sigh. Hopefully that will change soon.

How else can I promote the read/reflect/write web in my little corner of the world? Now that I’ve gained a little knowledge and experience in blogging I’m going to watch for opportunities to share. For instance, students took pictures on our recent field trip to the Petroforms in the beautiful Whiteshell provincial park (my new header was taken in that park) and I posted some that don’t identify the participants on Flickr.com. My next contribution will be to create a RSS feed to our school blog. I think it’s a great way to increase student and teacher traffic to the blog and to see how other’s around the world will respond to the photos.

Some of the best professional development comes from in-school sharing and collaboration. That’s where I see myself teaching in the read/reflect/write web – to break out of the “echo chamber” that is web 2.0 and to bridge the chasm between what some may see as fantasy to reality.

Visit here for more on this next week!

Listen to this post courtesy of Talkr.com

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8 Responses to Blogging Professional Development Pre-requisite: Must be willing to travel the world and back again in your jammies

  1. sahar009 says:

    Great post! It looks like you are putting as much effort into your endeavor as I am, and asking yourself the same questions 🙂 The concept of online community is both a powerful one as well as one that isn’t too easy to grasp and comprehend. But once we do, the world can literally belong to us. Good luck to you!

    ___________________________

    http://saharsblog.wordpress.com

  2. Rhonda, you humble me. I had no idea you worked in Winnipeg 1. I’m at DMCI. My classroom door is always open (literally). Any time you like come on in. I’ll aslo be at the MB Edubloggercon at Red River College, Princess Campus, on Thursday night, Nov 27. I hope I see you there. 😉

    Cheers,
    Darren

  3. Doug Johnson says:

    Hi Rhonda,

    All of us (including the so-called experts) are struggling to envision what schools and libraries that truly make the most of technology look like on a day-to-day basis. I suspect there will be many “right answers” to the question of “what will it look like?” Add yours, please!

    Enjoyed your post and thanks for the mention.

    All the very best,

    Doug

  4. Vern Morrissette says:

    Tansi,
    Not a blogger not even a great technology user, just an old fart. But, as I teach and research I find technology a neccessary tool for expanding my own personal intellectual and professional horizons. And, through the process of intellectual growth and development borne from inquisitiveness and the need to search new and innovative ideas and strategies for imparting information and yes “knowledge”, technology enters my life and leaves its indelible mark . I think this kind of experience process of technology inculcation, for those of us of the “older” generation, is perhaps the norm, slow but steady. However, have no fear as I believe the next generation of technology users are embracing the use of technology for life-long learning and while the explosion is silenced in the data stream its impact will be felt locally, nationally and globally. I hope folks like you (older generation or not) keep working away with the view to expanding “possibilty”, increasing knowledge and, contributing to the emancipation of of our human potential through open communication and dialogue.
    Keep it up Rhonda,
    Mahengun

  5. Joanne de Groot says:

    Rhonda,

    Thanks for an interesting and thought provoking post…the MacArthur Foundation report is really interesting and gives us all a lot to think about. We are all trying to figure out what things are going to look in the future…which is made even more difficult given the differences between schools and teachers. You raise a good point about how you will connect with the teachers in your own school and those outside of your local networks to start to answer these questions. I think you are well on your way to being part of this really important conversation!

    Joanne

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