What is Effective Technology Professional Development?

March 29, 2009

“A leader in ed. tech. is a person who knows how to make those  connections.”
WOW2 Show 108 podcast with MaryFriend Shepard
March 15, 2009

MaryFriend goes on to explain that Dewey’s theory of constructivist learning is the only learning theory that explains how integrating technology into today’s schools will work. This requires that a solid and shared understanding of the principles of constructivism and social constructivism, so educators are prepared to meet learners where/how they learn in today’s ever increasing technological society.

The barriers to successful professional development (PD) are significant. We know from Chao-Hsiu Chen’s work and writing in  Why do teachers not practice what they believe regarding technology integration? that some teachers’ lack or inconsistent understanding of this theoretical understanding hinders effective integration of technology into curriculum. External factors including pressure for students to achieve well in standardized exams and fears that content won’t be covered are two  external barriers that Chen identified.

Any PD initiative should begin by helping teachers make connections between their perceived need to cover curriculum and the sometimes conflicting demands of 21st century literacies.  It requires much more than the simple knowledge of how to use the tools. It requires an in depth understanding of good pedagogy in a supportive school climate conducive to inquiry learning and collaboration. Scott McLeod has developed some excellent guidelines for school leaders to set the stage for effective 21st century PD in Professional Development for Leaders.

In An Absence of Leadership, Scott suggests a good place to start is the ISTE’s NETS for Students and NETS for Teachers. I would then add an introduction to Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy is  familiar tool all teachers use when trying to infuse higher level thinking into their lessons and this is a great way to allow teachers to connect to what they already know. Andrew Churches has shown how it applies to technology integration – including the new Web 2.0 tools.  Illustration by Andrew Churches – from Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy V 3.0:

andrew-churches3

Then I’d re-introduce Manitoba Education’s Literacy with ICT continuum and the 21st Century Skills Map developed by the National Council of English Teachers which goes even further to illustrate how the tools can be integrated to meet curriculum standards. Teachers can then be asked to identify for themselves what they really need to be doing in this area.

Effective integration of technology requires time to meet, plan, and research – lots of time!  Judi Harris wrote an excellent 4 part series of articles for the ISTE online journal Leading and Learning with Technology entitled “One Size Doesn’t Fit All”. She asserts in  Part 1 (February 2008) that “30 hours of focused PD is required to change teachers professional practice.” Anyone who has tried to implement a successful technology professional development program for staff knows the extreme range of proficiency of use and range of successful integration that exists within any school staff – young and old. Judi Harris has developed a model that describes how the goals of PD can be addressed to meet the needs of each teacher.  Judi Harris gives some concrete ideas of how to combine goals and models to find the most effective and specific approaches given individual teacher’s differences. Teachers are described as innovators, early adoptors, early majority, late majority or laggards.

Kimberly Ketterer in “Coach, Nurture or Nudge” (Learning & Leading with Technology, May 2007)  provides a brief and insightful description of 3 groups of teachers in need of either coaching, nurturing or nudging, along with some suggestions on how best to work with each group. No longer can it be said: “You can’t hope to reach every teacher”.

Camilla Gagliolo identifies several structures by which teachers can help mentor one another in “Help Teachers Mentor One Another” (Learning & Leading with Technology, Sept./Oct 2008).

Yet Sandra Kay Plair’s assertion in Revamping Professional Development for Technology Integration and Fluency resonates the strongest:

Despite a steady wave of how-to workshops and some longer-duration seminars, infusing technology into curriculum and teaching practices remains elusive for many teachers. The existing format for technology-related professional development lacks the continuity that teachers need to develop the confidence and efficacy leading to technology fluency. Teachers crave a constant support person, in close proximity and available to fill in the gaps that arise with the rapid changes associated with technology.

She goes on to advocate for a “knowledge broker” or a staff member identified as the educational technology mentor: someone that knows how to use technology tools to enhance teaching and learning.

I know from working for 12 years as an in-school technology support teacher that this is true. I worked with each teacher on planning and integrating technology.  The classroom teacher was recognized as the curriculum specialist and I as the technology specialist. Everyone was armed with knowledge of good teaching strategies employed school-wide. Why is this model of in-school support not more widespread? Part of this answer is the reality of dwindling resources for staff allocation. So in the absence of sufficient staffing for full-time technology mentors, the teacher-librarian is in a unique position to provide  collaborative support, or to help set up formal mentoring structures to integrate technology, even with those teachers needing the most nudging.

School-wide access to some standard software helps build a shared understanding of the tools which can be used to integrate technology. For example every school should have concept-mapping software, word processors, spreadsheet, database and graphic creation and editing software available school-wide on all computers. If the same software is used division-wide, then even more sharing between colleagues is possible.

No discussion of professional development for integrating educational technology would be complete without including the many opportunities afforded by online learning. There are also many opportunities for growing a personal learning network online as well as enrolling in a formal online course. Although it’s not for every teacher, in many ways it can be the best professional development available for learning the new tools, how to use them and how to assess in today’s schools. In “Online Professional (Leading and Learning with Technology, May 2007) Jim Vanides describes how it  can allow students to be deeply reflective and participate fully instead of the 2-3 vocal students as in a traditional classroom.

Personally I can attest that online learning, through formal courses and using the web 2.0 technologies,  is the best I’ve ever experienced.


What is Effective Technology Integration?

March 22, 2009

The Technology Integration page at Edutopia.org provides a good explanation:

Effective Technology Instruction is when its use supports curricular goals. It must support four key components of learning:

  1. active engagement
  2. participation in groups
  3. frequent interaction and feedback
  4. connection to real-world experts

This site also has some excellent exemplary videos and descriptions of effective technology integration in different schools. Keri Hem’s TeacherTube video is another exemplary video: Effective Technology Integration.  Keri  stresses  that the focus be on the learning, not the technology, and that the learning activity needs to be difficult or impossible without the technology.

WAIT! Don’t click the back button yet This is a good starting point to help answer the question, but far from a complete answer.

Effective technology integration also requires a solid understanding of good pedagogy well grounded in solid educational learning theory and principles, such as the supporting principles for Manitoba Education’s Literacy with ICT developmental continuum:

• inquiry
• constructivist learning
• higher-level critical and creative thinking
• reaching deeper understanding
• gradual release of responsibility
• digital citizenship
• multiple literacies for the 21st century

In Avoiding the Digital Abyss: Getting Started in the Classroom with YouTube, Digital Stories, and Blogs – Mullen & Wedwick (2008) wisely recommend that when using digital storytelling, it is important for students to focus on the story first and the digital medium second, otherwise the stories can be weak and overpowered by the technology” (p.68) A similar message is delivered by Jason Ohler inthe March 2009 issue of  Educational Leadership in Orchestrating the Media Collage: “Focus on expression first and technology second and everything will fall into place”.  He also recommends teachers “be the guide on the side rather than the technician magician” (p. 13).

Yet the transformative changes required to allow that shift from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side” have shown to cause confusion and conflict in teacher belief systems as outlined by Chao-Hsiu Chen in Why do teachers not practice what they believe regarding technology integration? “Educational reform may encourage teachers to integrate technology to engage students in activities of problem-solving, critical thinking and collaborative learning, but a culture emphasizing competition and a high-stakes assessment system can strongly discourage teachers from undertaking such innovative initiatives.” (p. 73)

Perhaps this  helps  explain why of the 55  industry sectors recently ranked by their level of IT intensiveness, education was ranked 55:

This suggests that intensive technology integration is not going to happen due to the efforts of a few innovative school leaders. This is going to take extensive education reform and  include all the stakeholders: parents, students, educators, administrators, school board members, ministry and elected officials.

Has this reformation begun? Yes. Some schools would even report that it’s already happened. In my school I see the beginnings of some crucial components coming together, including division and school administrator support. Shifts are being made in how we assess students and how we work together in a school-wide and global culture of collaboration and inquiry.

And many resources are available for those ready to make the shift. In All Aboard and School-wide Technology Integration a focus on collaborative planning between teachers, teacher-librarian and other school specialists to plan and implement 21st century skill adoption is demonstrated and explained.

Resource lists like those available at www.futurekids.org & Technology Integration Made Easy have some good tips, but do little to move towards the transformative changes needed to fully integrate the 20th century skills and attitudes.  One excellent resource and example to fully integrate those skills and attitudes is laid out in the grade 4, 8 & 12 21st century skills Map by Dave Nagel, Partnership for 21st Century Skills Debuts ’21st Century Skills and English Map, from T.H.E. Journal ( November 2008).

Can the efforts of a few  innovative school leaders make a difference? Yes! Teacher-librarians and IT specialists are in a  unique position to work with others in the learning community and all the educators in a school towards a common vision grounded in good pedagogy.

img_06241img_06231

Rhonda Morrissette, Mike Friesen, Jo-Anne Gibson and Heather Eby sharing ideas for integrating Web 2.0 tools at a recent Manitoba School Library Association Literacy and Information Technology Forum

I’ve jotted down a few ideas below that I either have or would like to demonstrate how technology will assist student learning in all stages of the inquiry process:

Planning

  • Concept mapping
  • create assessment criteria using a spreadsheet or desktop publisher

Retrieving

  • Best searching strategies including paid subscription sites and newspaper, magazine and journal databases
  • Social bookmarking & RSS feeds
  • iTunes podcasts
  • Collecting Primary Data  using digital cameras, e-mail, videoconferencing, GPS, online surveys and online artifacts.

Processing

Creating

  • wikis to gather information, collaborate & demonstrate learning & synthesize
  • create reports, maps, spreadsheets & charts
  • presentation software like PowerPoint/Slideshare
  • multimedia software like MovieMaker or PhotoStory
  • web pages
  • blog – analysis, reflection and exchanging views
  • Citation software/tools – Citation Maker/Reference Tools in Microsoft Office 2007

Sharing

  • demonstrate learning in a wiki, podcast, videocast, website,
  • mashup, movie, blog, animation, comic book format (using Comic Life software), or essay

Evaluating

  • Blog comments
  • Flow chart

And all the while with teachers assessing, and students reflecting on the process using blogs, electronic journals, e-mail, podcasts, video or digital photograph portfolios. (Focus on Inquiry: Alberta Learning, Alberta, Canada, 2004 & Manitoba Education’s Literacy with ICT developmental continuum).

So what makes effective technology integration? The important thing to know is that no educator is alone in this. To integrate technology effectively requires a full team effort. It recognizes and honours the strengths and gifts that each student, staff and community member can bring to student learning. It allows students to learn and  demonstrate understanding of their learning using the best tools and resources available.

More on this next week . . . . .


Do you feel like somebody’s watching you?

March 15, 2009

blinkingeye2_biggerblinking eye by Steve Dembo:
with permission from “Turning Twitter into the Daily Prophet”

“I always feel like somebody’s watching me
And I have no privacy, whoa-oa-oa”

Rockwell Lyrics, Somebody’s Watching Me

At a recent visit to my banker, I noticed he can see my debit card history and exactly how much I spend at the liquor store. I just recently learned that my University of Alberta online instructors  can see how much time I spend on the Blackboard eClass system, how much time I spend in the chatroom and how many e-mails I send to others in the course. The computer tech at my school recently let it slip that he’s observed my high e-mail usage and joked that I use more space on the server than almost anyone else in my school. It’s not a stretch to realize that the far-reaching consequences of this kind of surveillance could be more than just embarassing. At what point is it an invasion of privacy?

I predict a new sci-fi thriller on the perils of loss of privacy on the internet in an Orwellian dystopian future. If I was a better writer, I might like to write that novel; then use it to cause students to think about the long-term consequences of their online actions today.

born-digital

As Palfrey and Gasser state so eloquently in Born Digital many young people are more focused on the importance of their current online social life than the long term repercussions of their online activity. (p. 53) “Young people use the internet to  connect to one another but may not realize that they are also connected to a large number of corporations and institutions.” (p. 66)

Parent and teachers have far more to offer young people than they may think when it comes to teaching them about how to protect their identities online. The first challenge is to know enough to be credible. But once the conversation starts, everyone will be better off. (p. 73)

Do I know enough to be credible? In some ways my 21 year old knows more than me about how to guard her personal information online, and chides her friends when they “give away” too much information.

All this has made me think about the difference between how some digital native may approach building their digital identity and how some educators may approach building theirs.

  • Digital natives build their identity mainly to connect socially with others.
  • Educators connect to learn more and possibly to advance themselves in their profession.
  • Despite the challenges presented by inconsistent and fluctuating privacy laws and regulations, both may aim to increase their online profile.
  • We both need to make that leap of trust and hope we don’t present a risk to our own  safety, risk of fraud, or that our health and financial histories could one day be used against us.
  • Educators know there are actions we can take as individuals to mitigate the risks.

I think we all know we’re going to be targeted for advertisements to a greater or lesser extent, and  media awareness education and initiatives is one area educators can easily focus. Canada’s Media Awareness Network continues to be a current and invaluable resource to Canadian educators.

Some online services like Google, seem to be responsive to our desire for greater privacy online. This is evidenced by the 3-part Google Privacy Video Series. I finally understand what cookies are after being online for almost 20 years! I learned Google Chrome includes an incognito mode, and improved phishing and malware help.

Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs Privacytown is a refreshing, well written, humourous, engaging and comprehensive resource. Among it’s many sections, it includes the The Privacytown Protection Guide outlining the role of the individual, government and business in protecting privacy.

The Privacy Overview begins by explaining that Personal Information is also called “pi” in the “privacy biz”, then goes on to state “everyone wants a piece of your pi”. I was already hooked, and laughed at this statement:  “Privacy isn’t exactly a recent concept. In fact, you might argue that it is the world’s oldest obsession – – – well, maybe the second oldest.”

Doug Johnson offers some sage advice to bloggers in his article “Lighting Lamps” in Bloggers Caf é of the June/July 2008 issue of ISTE’s Learning and Leading with Technology. His tips are sure to keep your professional profile intact, and could also save young and old alike from personal embarrassment somewhere down the line:

  • Write assuming your boss is reading.
  • Gripe globally; praise locally.
  • Write for edited publications.
  • Write out of goodness.

In all my online transactions I also try to follow the advice from my local teacher association; “don’t write anything online that you wouldn’t say in front of a room full of people”. While building my online identity, this has become my personal mantra.

All Canadian educators need to know the implications of Canada’s new private sector privacy laws in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).  Useful information for individuals related to this new law is available here. Canadian Educators are also bound by their provincial freedom of information and privacy acts (in Manitoba it’s FIPPA).

Those of us in charge of school library automated circulation systems need to keep lending histories and overdue notices confidential.

And according to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, although “many young people recognize the risks associated with their online activities, they lack the knowledge and tools to mitigate those risks”. Privacy statements are difficult for students (and some educators) to read and understand. As well as teaching students media awareness, educators can complain to the Privacy Commission of Canada for increased legislation for privacy and other terms of use to be written in plain language. Or we can teach our students how to lodge effective complaints.

Working with other educators in a school, a teacher-librarian can help guide students to protect their personal information and online reputation to leave a positive digital footprint for a bright future.


Digital Natives, Immigrants and Pioneers

January 25, 2009

I’m a Digital Immigrant according to Marc Prensky’s description. I wasn’t born into a digital world and none of my early school experiences included the use of technology. However, I’ve been a public school teacher for over 23 years with a deeply entrenched belief in social constructivism; the belief that students learn by connecting new knowledge to previous knowledge as well as by discussion and interaction with teachers, mentors and peers. So just knowing  my students’ interest and engagement with technology, plus my own interest, made me want to explore using technology as a teaching tool. I followed the work of digital pioneers like Kathy Schrock (who defined the term digital pioneer) and Jamie McKenzie for over 15 years and that allowed me to understand how by using good questioning and inquiry learning strategies , students can develop critical thinking skills while improving both  skill and ethical use of technology.

A deluge of books and information has become available on our new generation of students, dubbed “Digital Natives” by Marc Prensky. The ubiquitous nature of today’s technology and our students’ continuous use have resulted in today’s students thinking and learning differently.  Here’s TeacherTube’s Top 100 Video – Pay Attention which explains the nature of the digital immigrant in a school setting. Chances are you’ve already seen it.

TeacherTube’s Top 100 Video – Pay Attention:

and here’s a glimpse into how Marc Prensky thinks including some insights into how teachers and students can partner to teach each other.

Marc Prensky@ Handheld Learning 2008

In Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Prensky calls for radical changes to education; a “major translation and change of methodology” to meet the needs of today’s students.

Most recently I’ve become aware of the work of many, many other digital pioneers in the education world developing new insights and understandings of what is important for today’s students. Examples of this work are found in exemplary standards defined in the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Students and  Teachers . I’m now also following the work of  Web 2.0 digital pioneers like Joyce Valenza, Vicki Davis and Darren Kuropatwa who are able to demonstrate that their students are meeting ALL the ISTE Indicators for Students AND that their students are also engaged, interested and having fun!

I couldn’t be more thrilled with the recent release of the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. One look at the common beliefs and I’m hooked:

  • reading
  • inquiry
  • ethical behaviour needs to be taught
  • technology skills are crucial
  • equitable access

So why are changes happening so slowly in education? One obvious answer in my situation in an adult high school is that not all our students are Digital Natives. Some of the students are older than me. I also found insight into these questions in the 2008 publication of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.

born-digital

What I like best about Palfrey and Gasser’s discussion on learning in the digital world is that they dismiss the debate about whether technology is creating a dumber generation by stating there is “no definitive evidence that Digital Natives are smarter or dumber than other generations, they are simply coping with more information” (p. 244).

The authors also assert that the radical transformative changes advocated by Marc Prensky and others to meet the needs of Digital Natives are not necessarily wise. Rather learning and teaching have enduring qualities that have nothing to do with technology, such as students learning by dialog, questioning and exchanging views. The authors emphasize that it is the “participation gap” that educators need to pay the most attention. This includes those students with the least access to technology outside of school that need to somehow gain the technological skills needed to participate in today’s society.

This prompted me to reflect on the students in my unique setting. As Christine Greenhow asserts in “Who Are Today’s Learners?” [Learning and Leading with Technology, Sept/Oct 2008 ] it’s important to know our students out-of-school access to technology. Just two years ago I conducted a survey with the students attending my school and one of the indisputable findings was the varying levels of access to internet accessed computers by the students in our different programs. These are the results when comparing out-of-school access from least to most:

  1. English as Additional Language Program
  2. Basic Ed. program (gr. 1 – 8 )
  3. Intro and Advanced Courses (gr. 9-11)
  4. Grade 12 Courses

The implications for me and my school staff seem clear. We need to provide more opportunities for students with the least amount of access to technology outside school.

I can plan and make changes in my own library program:

  • I’m happy to report students will be able to access the internet on their own laptops by the start of next semester, which should free up more of our school networked computer workstations for those students without their own laptops.
  • I can continue to advocate for  increased access to computers in the library.
  • I need to continue to help promote rich and meaningful opportunities for online research as well as provide students with the means to verify information.
  • I need to begin helping students better learn to organize the increasing amounts of information coming their way by using RSS feeds and social bookmarking.

I can appreciate why many advocates for educational reform are calling for dramatic and radical changes. Today’s students don’t freeze in time while their teacher’s take the time to discuss today’s changing needs. I also appreciate that care and balance is necessary for educators to learn and plan how best to meet students’ needs.

For now I take inspiration from Palfrey and Gasser in Born Digital:

“There’s never been a greater need for reference librarians than there is today, when Digital Natives are relying so heavily on Google, Wikipedia, and the places to which those sites point them.” (p. 252)

and

“The role of libraries is increasing, not decreasing.” (p. 253)


Library 2.0 – The Time is Now: Make it So!

January 17, 2009

“Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not a preparation for life but is life itself.” John Dewey (1859 – 1952)

Joyce Valenza’s collaboratively-created Manifesto for 21st century Teacher-librarians provides not only direction, but inspiration and hope for teacher-librarians to continue to be integral to the life and learning in a school. It makes me wonder, what are the paradigm shifts that allow 21st century literacies and web 2.0 learning flourish, and more importantly, how does this connect with my own philosophy of education.

I’ve always tried to be well grounded in my learning theory and able to explain why I teach the way I teach. I make known my fierce belief in social constructivism by adding the above quote to the bottom of my signature on my school e-mails.

Social constructivists believe that learning is intensely social and collaborative and constructed by students based on their unique understanding of their worlds. We must meet our students where they are – which is squarely in the 21st century including social networking, gaming and a lot of other highly social, high level thinking and interactive technological activities.

Having grown up in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s I understand clearly that as Marshall McLuhan states “The Medium is the Message”. Educators need to make sure they understand the different media available at any given point in time, and how each media may or may not be the most effective in conveying their student’s unique messages.

Contemporary transformative learning theorist Stephanie Pace Marshall states in her book:power-to-transform The Power to Transform: Leadership that Brings Learning and Schooling to Life :

To educate our children wisely requires that we create generative learning communities, by design. Such learning communities have their roots in meaning, not memory; engagement, not transmission; inquiry, not compliance; exploration, not acquisition; personalization, not uniformity; interdependence, not individualist; collaboration, not competition; and trust, not fear.

The learning community Marshall describes is the one in which I want to live and learn and teach.

And as a Teacher-librarian I am in the privileged position to help lead. As Dr. Ross J. Todd explains in Youth and their Virtual Networked Worlds: Research Findings and Implications for School Libraries (p.31), Teacher-librarians have a “golden opportunity” to demonstrate leadership by illustrating how engaging and powerful the new collaborative technologies are.

I need to make sure I’m a Teacher-librarian that:

  • has the information to pass on when asked “what is the best software or tool to use to get my message out and how do I get started?”
  • understands the new tools and their potential pitfalls so I know how to guide students to take advantage of them wisely.
  • early adoptors, innovative and risk-taking teachers in the school come for support.
  • teaches students how to locate and organize information most effectively, including how to use RSS feeds and social bookmarking sites
  • teaches critical and media literacy.
  • demonstrates how powerful and positively collaborative a school/classroom/library blog or wiki can be.
  • can find a specific CBC interview podcast at the principal’s request and post it on the school blog for all staff and students to access easily.
  • invites discussion for creating a shared school vision for integrating technology in a meaningful way.
  • teachers come to discuss how to incorporate e-books and audio-books into regular instruction using student and school Mp3 players.
  • advocates for least restrictive filtering practices so students can take advantage of the new technologies in meaningful ways, while also learning responsible and ethical use of the internet.
  • help students know the value their own positive digital footprint.
  • responds to student’s requests to access the internet on their own laptops in the library by calling for a policy review on this issue instead of citing existing policy.

Joyce Valenza’s Manifesto for the 21st century Teacher-librarian continues to evolve as a wiki, which I believe is the absolute most appropriate medium for this message. As I examine the last few lines as they appear today I am inspired to reflect whether I:

  • see the big picture and let others see [me] seeing it. It’s about learning and teaching. It’s about engagement. If [I am] seen only as the one who closes up for inventory, as the book chaser, and NOT as the CIO, the inventor, the creative force, [I] won’t be seen as a big picture person?
  • continue to retool and learn?
  • represent our brand as a 21st century information professional?

I’m filled with hope that students of today are moving humanity toward a better, social and more thoughtful future. If I can continue to help guide this in a good way, then I can rest assured that I’ve done my life’s work as a teacher and a mentor.

The Lost Generation: If you start viewing this video, watch it all the way to the surprise ending.


Bridging the Chasm between Fantasy and Reality

November 30, 2008

Last week I concluded my blog with the following ambitious statement:

“Some of the best professional development comes from in-school sharing and collaboration. That’s where I see myself teaching in the read/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.”

Today I attempt to answer the question “Where do I begin to bridge the chasm?

The biggest challenge to introducing the power of Web 2.0 tools into every classroom is the time it takes to learn. In Anne Davies blog “Thinking about change – Nov. 7, 2008 , Anne eloquently states:

I think a big part of why educators are not out of their own networks is that their day is filled with other priorities that the teacher has to accomplish. I wish schools would make reflection and learning time for teachers a priority that nothing could interrupt. Students need the same. I agree that educators need to blog, use wikis, del.icio.ous and the like but until the educators’ learning and growth is truly made a priority within our schools, I don’t think we will make the progress we need to achieve. We need leaders that make this happen. A reflective culture of learning and growing must be nurtured in our schools.

As Bridget McCrea reports in The Journal – Karl Fisch: Creating Lifelong Learners, Karl Fisch of Arapahoe High School, frustrated with the pace of technology integration into classroom practice, secured grant funding to provide significant release time for teachers to learn and apply the latest technology tools.

This is a professional development (PD) model in which I would love to participate. When the time is right, I will definitely be there to collaborate with teachers to delve deeply into the power of blogging and the interrelated world of Web 2.0 for education. But that will take time to work with school leadership and setting up as a possible school priority and I want to start right now. Again I ask myself, “Where do I begin?”

podango-sound1 Click Here To Learn Which Web 2.0 Tool I’ll Begin With and Why

(The background music is called “Outdoor Ambience” and was downloaded from Soundzabound Royalty Free Music for Schools and the “ptwiiing” effect is available as a freeware download courtesy of Chris from Flashkit.com.)

Why Podcast?

Wesley Fryer makes outlines a rationale for podcasting in education in his “Why Podcast?” ppt linked below

whypodcast:
Check out a fuller description here .

In Manitoba podcasting is one of the suggested ways for students to “Show Understanding” of their Literacy with ICT Inquiry Projects as seen in this Developmental Continuum:
literacywithict.

What is Educational Podcasting?

Here’s Tony Vincent’s comprehensive site for Finding and Subscribing to Podcasts.

One of the sites on Tony’s list: The Education Podcast Network (EPN) “is an effort to bring together into one place, the wide range of podcast programming that may be helpful to teachers looking for content to teach with and about, and to explore issues of teaching and learning in the 21st century.”

My advice would be to find and sample the podcast series you’d like to follow in EPN, then subscribe in iTunes. This list is great to illustrate the abundance and wide range of educational podcasts available, even though it is incomplete. The podcast series that is noticeable absent from this list is the cutting edge k12online08 Audio Channel , so that would be a good one to demonstrate subscribing to through iTunes. EdTechTalk is listed, but the full breadth of the podcast would be worthy of demonstrating as well, in particular the Women of the Web 2.0 podcast series.

How to Podcast?

Wes Fryer includes an extensive list of resources for getting started with educational podcasting on his Podcasting Wiki here.

One of the resources listed on this wiki is Tony Vincent’s Excellent Podcasting for Teachers & Students Click on the image below to view the full .pdf file.

tonyvincent
I followed Tony’s guide to create my own first podcast, from installing and using Audacity and Levelator Software to labelling and importing my podcast into iTunes complete with original artwork. This guide even details how schools can create and promote their own podcast series.

An important part of planning to podcast with students is exploring, then discussing what makes a good podcast. Here are 3 possible assessment rubrics to help guide students in their learning linked below:

podcasting1podcasting2podcasting3

Educators will also want to familiarize themselves with the Podcasting Legal Guide for Canada (also linked to the image below):

podcastinglegalguideforcanada3

“Why Copyright?”, due November 2008, is another resource educators will want to watch for:
Why Copyright? Canadian Voices on Copyright Law – Trailer

When Do I Find Time with My Colleagues?

If time is such an issue in introducing Web 2.0 tools to teachers, when will I introduce podcasting? I’m happy to report that I’ve already started! Students in a grade 12 Psychology class asked their teacher to help them edit a .mp3 file that they wanted to include in their multi-media presentation to demonstrate their understanding and learning of their inquiry project “Effects of the Menstrual Cycle on Women’s Mental and Emotional Health”. I was invited into the classroom and arrived in a flash! I demonstrated how to edit .mp3 files using Audacity, then how to search for more podcasts on their topic through iTunes (yes there were more podcasts on this topic), add their own dialog to the podcast and generally hooked a whole group of students, plus their teacher, on podcasting. This is what I meant when I wrote “Some of the best professional development comes from in-school sharing and collaboration. That’s where I see myself teaching in the read/write web”. – in authentic learning situations. I’m just waiting now for the interest and enthusiasm for podcasting to “catch on” in other classrooms.

A teacher of beginning English as Additional Language students asked for a demonstration of how to locate on the web and burn podcasts to a CD for her to play in the classroom. We set up a time to do this and after that I asked “Would you like to learn how to make your own podcast?” hoping that she would jump at the chance – and she did! She was surprised at how easy it was and that I would post the files on the school blog for her students so they could practice speaking English outside of the classroom in the comfort of their homes or at a library – at absolutely no cost to the school!

A few weeks ago I posted a podcasting test on the division-sponsored blog entitled How I Made This Podcast. The reason I did that was to demonstrate that podcasts can be uploaded and embedded directly into my school division WordPress.org blogs, but need to be linked from a podcast hosting service into this WordPress.com blog. Well, it turned out that my podcast was a “hit around the office” with the division’s Educational Technology Folks. After I expressed my initial embarrassment at this, I was asked to share what I’ve learned about podcasting with the Senior Years Educational Technology Mentor’s Group. This is my plan:

December session:

  • record the entire session using the podcast kit prepared by the ed. tech. folks and available for loan to schools
  • edit and share bits of the session as “minutes” on the 9-12 Mentor’s blog (giving my word processor a break for a change!)

January Session:

  • familiarize participants with the resources listed above
  • demonstrate and walk participants through making and posting a podcast on our mentor’s blog

I’ll also highlight this CBC podcast featuring Darren Kuropatwa following his Web 2.0 PD session at our Manitoba Special Area Groups Conference on Nov. 28, 2008.

The time is right for the “just in time learning” of podcasting in my little educational enclave and fortunately I’m ready!

Which Web 2.0 tool would you begin with?

podango-sound2Listen to this blog courtesy of Talkr.com


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

November 24, 2008

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