- Emergency Preparedness Distance Learning - October 18, 2016
- Educational Renaissance: Veteran Teachers Vest in Change - October 10, 2016
- Breaking out of the Norm with Breakout Edu - April 29, 2016
- Mini Thought Bubble on Performance Assessments - April 12, 2016
- The Sensibilities of Mind Mapping - March 15, 2016
- Pioneering Nearpod - January 28, 2016
- Classroom Work Flow Before the Holidays - December 15, 2015
- Surviving the Doldrums of Education - December 1, 2015
- E-Sub Plans for Educators - November 17, 2015
- Presenting Missing Histories - November 2, 2015
Yesterday marks another celebratory moment at our public school. Our administration approved hosting a second annual inservice edcamp organized by our school tech integrationist. He scheduled workshops designed and run by educational expertise right here on our campus and helped host requested workshops for specific professional development. No outsiders involved, no forced learning.
Personalized learning (PLP) works from the top down in a school community with learning at every level. The professional development needs are identified and met it when teachers willingly set up their own workshops to share this expertise. Attendees are allowed to choose which workshops to engage in, they are given exploratory and self reflection time prior to presenting what gains were made. Edcamps are meant to be spontaneous. In reality it works better with our community to rely on prior planning and structure provided by one individual. My husband, the techie, originally sent out requests for presenters and then organized the workshops into a timeframes shared as a google doc. Faculty had ample time to submit requests, suggest changes or request a shift in the presentation schedule. The final itinerary was shared once more through our internal systems of communication and published to our school Twitter feed (see link). In fact, the program ran itself without the physical presence of our principal, and tech-integrationist who were presenting at a conference in Massachussetts on the successes of our 1:1 schoolwide iPad initiative with a leading Vermont educator/ biology teacher from our faculty.
Our two hour edcamp shaped up nicely. Teachers unfamiliar with the format were shocked to learn that they weren't assigned but could move in and out of trainings as they pleased. This freedom was a new experience. While each workshop was meant to last 30 minutes, several went longer based on the enthusiasm or needs of the educators involved. Without a regimented pace many teachers were enjoying time practicing use of a new application or talking to one another about best practice.
There were the segues into other issues and concerns. A workshop on the use of Pinterest led to a discussion on intellectual property. Teachers were debating the value of access to applications through private or school email accounts. We shared the benefits and complications of separating personal and professional worlds from students. It was mentioned that assignments or programs created within a school domain technically become the property of the school. Educators who retired or left our school system suddenly lost all of their google creations when their email was deleted. Even more disturbing was the fact that whole departments lost shared documents that had been copied but without ownership. For now, copying and changing ownership of documents can happen in a personal google account. Teachers can set up their own Dropbox or consider other file saving applications. In contrast, at least one college in our state is addressing the redefinition of intellectual property. College students are told from the first day of their freshman year that anything they design or create will be their own. However, the school retains the right to promote that designer as a student of that college program and that field of study. As an educator, I often overlook the value of my work. The opportunities for publishing have increased my awareness and made me reconsider not only my ownership but that of my own students. Would students value essay writing more than they currently do if they had more opportunities to publish? Would their value in education increase if they had more days that involved edcamps? Does it lead to productivity or chaos?
Teachers left edcamp discussing the merits of Pinterest, game based learning and Twitter with less timidity. Discussing are continuing to revolve around enacting policies for protection of intellectual property. Who knows what the possibilities will lead us to? Some teachers may bond to create a similar experience for students. Maybe more will take themselves seriously and professionally. Maybe some will simply thank their tech integrationists and administrators for a day of meaningful experiences.