My 2nd day of catching sessions online of EduCon 2.1 was much more subdued than day one. I started the morning listening to the panel discussion on school reform with a screaming 1 month old, so my recollections are rather fuzzy. I do remember a number of great zingers from Gary Stager today. One major point that came up near the end of the discussion but never really got much of an answer was “Why are there so few people of color who attend/take part in educational technology?” This is a question which undoubtedly has many answers, however it is something that should be considered and looked into as the technology education movement goes forward.
The real meat of my day came in the final session where I caught Tech in 20 presented by David Bill. The premise of his session was simple, his school offers technology professional development in 20 minute sessions. The topics are presented by different teachers in the building, the sessions are recorded, and posted to a Google Site. The current site is available here.
The idea seems fantastic to me for several reasons. First of all, many technology tools can be presented easily in 20 minutes or less. One of the problems of technology staff development is trying to cram too much into each session. Many try to incorporate introduction, exploration, and classroom applications all in the same session. With the 20 minute presentation idea the staff development is limited to one of these three. Most sessions will primarily focus on introduction of a technology tool. The exploration portion could then be tackled by each teacher in their own manner. Finally, a second Tech in 20 session might focus on classroom applications. Alternatively, the school could set up a wiki for teachers to post their own ideas for classroom applications.
A second reason the Tech in 20 idea is appealing is the way it allows tech facilitators to meet their staff at their level. Sessions could be provided on entry level technology topics for those who are less comfortable, and other sessions could be provided for more advanced teachers/learners. Additionally, 20 minute sessions allow people to step out of their comfort zone for a short amount of time. Teachers are much more likely to accept the “learner” tag if it’s only in short bursts rather than feeling less proficient for long periods of time. Finding teachers in the building to conduct a 20 minute session is also easier than asking for full hour PD sessions.
Finally, recording the sessions makes the most sense out of all of this. There is relatively little to stand in the way of being able to record PD sessions with the increased availability of low-cost webcams or computers with built in webcams. Recording the sessions allows all teachers to attend at their own time and pace, and provides some of the 1:1 attention that is so difficult to provide during the school day. After the 20 minute introduction, teachers are free to experiment in their own classrooms and then have multiple outlets for further investigation.
Sessions presented by co-workers allows both the presenter and the tech facilitator to provide further help. This gets us closer to the critical mass of teachers needed for the tech tools to make the in-roads in our schools that will ultimately get our students creating, modifying, and thinking in 21st Century terms.
Tech in 20 EduCon Wiki Page (Presentation Video to be made available soon)