Bite-Sized Professional Learning

As some of you would already know, I made a “tree change” last year and headed to the Barossa Valley. As the new eLearning Manager in my school, one of my first initiatives was to set up a fortnightly “newsletter” in the form of a Weebly created site. Each issue contained five items; no more and no less. There was, what I believed to be, an appropriate mix of topics; the latest theory or trend, new apps, video tutorials and a regular “How To…” column. This was an attempt to give teachers the opportunity for some regular professional learning “at leisure.” All the feedback was positive and I saw no reason not to continue in 2016.

For Weebly Pro Users there is the opportunity to access detailed analytics of your website traffic. In the first term this year I noticed that the readership of the newsletter had fallen away dramatically; to as little as five percent of the teaching staff. I wasn’t particularly miffed but did want to know the reasons for the drop-off. I brought up the matter at a committee meeting and I was certainly bemused by the three reasons I kept hearing in various forms …

  1. “People are tech-weary, we’re sick of hearing about it all the time.”
  2. “Your newsletter took too long to read; sometimes it was 15 or 20 minutes.”
  3. “I would have been more likely to read it as a print out.” (Seriously, a printed eLearning Newsletter!)

To me they each seemed like a version of that same old excuse which has long made me bypass miffed and go straight to “bl**** angry.” It surely can’t be acceptable any longer to say “I haven’t got time for this.”

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Pleasingly, it didn’t take me long to come up with an alternative; a Tip of the Week in poster form, created in the excellent Piktochart. (Hell, people can even print it if they want to!) I really enjoy the design process and so I’m happy to do this … in that sense at least. But seriously, how effective can it be to deliver bite-sized professional learning!

*If you would like to use or just check out my first two tips, just use the links below:

https://magic.piktochart.com/output/13743968-untitled-poster

https://magic.piktochart.com/output/14051589-week-2

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Reconnecting With Connectedness

(#Bloggermore2015 15/26)

I have long been fascinated with the idea of connectedness. I have written about it previously on this blog and also penned an article on Global Connections for Australian Teacher Magazine in August 2013. It is no coincidence that this blog is called The Connected Teacher or that @connectedtchr is my Twitter handle. Recently, I have “reconnected” with the entire concept after coming across an article referencing the new book “The Relevant Educator” from Steven W. Anderson and Tom Whitby.

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I am fortunate to have met both Steven (he of the bow ties) and Tom (invariably in Hawaiian prints), albeit fleetingly, at ISTE 2014 in Atlanta. I also attended a session conducted by Steven with his other long time collaborator, Kyle Pace. No surprise, the idea of connectedness (and how to achieve it) was also high on the agenda there. Of course, in October each year, the USA celebrates “Connected Educator” month whilst Australia is busy focusing on Oc-sober. (Probably says something significant!)

In “The Relevant Educator” the authors identify the 8 tenets of being a connected educator. For Steven and Tom, these teachers maintain educational relevance by …

1. Practicing and modelling lifelong learning 2. Viewing failure as part of the process of learning 3.  Sharing and collaborating 4. Connecting with other educators 5. Putting relevance ahead of doctrine. 6. Exploring the possibilities of technology 7. Employing this technology to personalise professional learning and 8. Using technology to learn and teach

I would like to think that I model most of the eight but that connectedness requires many hours, huge energy and has left my life “out of balance.” It would seem to me that there is a real need for schools to start employing what I have decided to call digital specialists. These specialists could be employed to deal exclusively with numbers 6-8 on the above list and to craft digital resources on demand. They would act as an intermediary (and filter) between time poor classroom teachers and the ever expanding digital world. Would your school be prepared to invest money in such specialists?

In the interim, here’s an infographic summary of “The Relevant Educator” which was created by yours truly (the digital specialist) using Piktochart and with the permission of Tom and Steven. As always, please feel free to use this resource in your own writing or presentations.