This year, I’m taking on a new venture in PD with our staff. Though I’m not the tech coordinator in our building, I feel like it’s time I make a more concerted effort to share some of my tech experiences with our staff. With that in mind, I’m implementing a program called “Tech in 20.” I first heard about this idea from David Bill’s EduCon 2.1 session of the same title. The idea addresses one of the major issues with teachers learning new technology tools…TIME!
Without a doubt, integrating technology takes time, something that is often not available to many teachers. The goal of Tech in 20 is to provide staff development experiences that last no longer than 20 minutes. These experiences are used to introduce topics to teachers and then let them explore their use in the classroom.
At our school, we have monthly technology meetings. I found that those meetings were often being used for the introduction of tools. I felt our time together would be better used if we could discuss ways of integrating various tools into the classroom. Tech in 20 should help balance the two situations.
What’s The Plan?
The basic idea is to hold weekly 20 minute sessions on Thursday afternoons. The schedule for the beginning of the year will be made in advance, then we can address tools as they come up during the school year. I surveyed our staff at the end of last year to gauge their interest in 19 different tools. From there, I picked the first six topics we will cover. I believe the majority of the other tools will be covered, as well as additional tools throughout the year.
Each session will start with an overview of the tool. I plan to show as many academic uses of the tools as possible to get the teachers thinking of ways they can use them in their classrooms. After the overview, we will spend a short time either demonstrating the tool or having a question/answer session about possible uses/pitfalls. Each session will have a corresponding page on a Google Site which I have set up for the program (http://sites.google.com/site/bcmstechin20). The session pages will have brief overviews of the tools, links to additional resources, a list of the attendees for reference by those who couldn’t make it, and a video recording of the session.
That last part is going to be interesting for me. I intend to stream out each of these sessions via LiveStream.com. The link for the LiveStream channel is http://www.livestream.com/bcmstechin20. The recordings will serve two purposes. First, those who can’t attend or “don’t get it” can have a place to go and watch the discussion that happened during our Thursday session. Second, I hope to have some folks at other schools join us and perhaps even watch the events live with their staff. Perhaps we’ll even reach a point where viewers pose some questions or provide some answers about how tools can be used in the classroom.
Why Am I Doing This?
There are a number of goals for this program:
- Meet teachers where they are – Too often, tech tools are demonstrated one time, and you either get it or you don’t. For many teachers, the reasons to integrate a tech tool don’t manifest themselves until long after the training has ended. Some teachers still need training on “basic” tech skills. Providing those in 20 minute sessions means that those folks who have mastered a particular tool or topic aren’t tied into an hour long PD session that isn’t moving them forward.
- Just In Time – The recordings and session pages will allow teachers to revisit sessions as the year progresses. Perhaps they have no use for Twitter at the time of the Tech in 20 session, but later in the year decide they want to give it a whirl. Going back to the session page they have a video of the session, links to additional resources, and a list of the other people who were there. That way there are more people to help present uses than just the tech coordinator or myself
- Move Conversations from the Tools to the Pedagogy – There are so many tools out there, that we as teachers have no way of ever entirely keeping up. If we spent an hour long PD session on each new tool, that would be our entire job, never getting to the point of implementing them in the classroom. These quick sessions should allow us to cover a number of tools and get them more frequently used in the room. That way, during our monthly meetings, we’ll be able to spend more time on discussing the best ways to implement the tools in the classroom.
- Keep it Simple! – With the sessions only lasting 20 minutes, much of the extraneous discussion has to be kept out. This should help us focus on the topic at hand, get the basics, and then allow teachers to explore on their own.
- Connect with others – Both in school, and across the county/state/country. There are a ton of folks looking into using these tools in their classrooms, so why not connect with them and build a support group beyond our building? The brain power of many is far greater than the brain power of just a few. Hopefully we’ll be able to harness some of that.
So there you have it. My basic plan for the year. We’re planning to meet on Thursday afternoons at approximately 3:20 pm EST. We’d love to have you join us! Our first sessions are tentatively: Tech 101, Social Bookmarking, Blogging, Video Embedding, Senteo, Creative Commons, and Flip Video/Movie Maker software.
I’d love to have your thoughts or suggestions for the program!
Photo credit: “Clock” by Darren Hester, licensed through Creative Commons