Taking Action After RSCON10 : In-House Professional Development On-Line

Since the conclusion of the 2010 Reform Symposium, and with Steven Anderson’s message to tell our colleagues and out our thoughts into action ringing in my ears, I’ve been trying to think of how to get the message across about making good use of the resources available on the web and including them in our everyday teaching. How can the message that knowing how to use the tool is not enough, it’s what you use it for and why that’s important be effectively presented? Of course I had my ‘Archimedes moment’ not while pondering all of this (and not in the bath either!) but while turning down a request for me to come in early to do induction for new teachers. Just as I was explaining over the phone that I would be out of town at the end of August, it hit me – why do I have to be physically present to lead the induction? Why do the new teachers even have to be physically present? Why not set up an online resource with hints, tips and links to relevant information for the new teachers to consider and discuss? After all, I just spent a weekend listening to great ideas from great educators while I was sat in the comfort of my own home and they were in theirs. Advice on getting through the first few lessons, classroom management, using the class computer, setting up online projects and professional development through setting up a PLN or blogging could all be covered in one space.

My idea started to snowball from there. This year, it would have to be something the teachers see just before the academic year commences but in future years, the link could be sent to newly recruited foreign teachers as soon as they’ve accepted the job, months before they even come to Turkey. Why stop with the new teachers? This could be expanded to be a resource for current teachers to get them more engaged in using tech in class. One of the messages I took away from the Reform Symposium was that showing people examples of what can be done rather than telling them about it is more effective, so what better way to demonstrate the benefits of wikis, making podcasts, using video clips, posting glogs, photos and projects to a blog etc etc than getting the teachers to do it themselves for their own professional development?

The question now is 'how?'. 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades at my school have their own English wiki hosted by pbworks (4th grade should be following suit next year) so using the same host for a teachers’ wiki would be ideal (but not compulsory - I’m also open to ther suggestions if you have any). I think a combination of resources would be best – text, audio, video, discussion pages, external links and specific tools like Voicethread, Glogster, Garage Band and others…

These are all very much initial ideas so my question to all you educators out there is: have you done or used anything like this before? How did it work? What tips do you have for me to help me set it all up?

All suggestions welcome!