Disrupting Professional Development

The beauty of the K12 online conference is that you don’t need to panic that you haven’t been able to keep up. It doesn’t matter. The presentations are all there waiting for you. While online learning implies an anywhere, anytime approach, there is great value in sharing the experience face to face. Duh.

So on Tuesday I invited a few folks together to watch some presentations, talk about them and share our own experiences. It was good. There were people there for whom they had never heard of many of the ideas and really needed to wrap their heads around the implications for teaching and learning. For those without a network to support them, this is invaluable. Even if one person can come away with a plan or at least a connection, I’m pleased.

And here’s the other thing. Traditionally we send a teacher to a local conference, pay sub costs, registration fees, mileage, meals and maybe accommodation. You can conservatively estimate a cost of about $500 a day.  I brought it supper at about $10 a person and I would say we had an experience, equal if not better than a day at your typical conference. I’m in the midst of reading Disrupting Class and Scott McLeod’s presentation deals with some of the ideas in this book. This is really an example of disruptive professional development.

I’d encourage you to plan your own local events. Use the essential questions at the bottom of each presentation to guide you. If you have something in the works or just want to flesh out the ideas some more, leave a comment.

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The WOW factor still matters

I’m not sure if this says more about my social life or my connected life but whatever. You can judge for yourself.

So it’s Friday night, my wife is out watching my girls perform in Annie. (I’m really a good parent, I watched them on Saturday I just don’t need to see it three times). So I find myself watching Jeff Utecht in Bangkok on his computer, streaming his former colleagues in Shanghai gathering together on a Saturday watching presentations from K12 online.  You may have to read that sentence twice to get it.

Jeff held a similar event a couple of years ago.  2 years ago, streaming video was not readily available but Jeff did record some of that event for viewing after the fact.  Today, streaming video is as easy as email. But Jeff had to do some fancy configurations to stream his Skype call from Shanghai back to Bangkok out to the world. I was concerned that the internet might break at any moment. Jeff has a reputation.

As much as I live this stuff everyday, there is still a WOW factor here. The WOW of an almost seamless discussion with people who care deeply about the things I do. I think WOW is good. I think WOW should be leveraged not as an end but a means to really important stuff.  I agree that WOW isn’t enough anymore but to think that I could have a rich conversation with folks who offer a completely different perspective from the other side of the world would seem significant.  I think having rich conversations locally is important and that’s exactly what the teachers in Shanghai were doing.  There’s no reason why we would have to choose.

Let’s Roll

While last Monday was the official start of the K12online conference, this Monday is when we really get rolling.

Two presentations each week day begins. As a convener I’m excited to see that conference continue to grow and expand. This year there are a number of improvements and additions.

  • Presentations are all under 20 minutes. In the past, there was no limit and while this conference is really bound by time, the emphasis on concise, compelling presentations allows users to view more presentations. You can always go deeper if you wish as most presenters provide links for more information.
  • More opportunities to interact. Along with 4 live events, the Live Events Committee is providing 3 essential questions for each presentation using Voicethread called A cup of Joe. This again can help foster and focus discussions.
  • Increased accessibility.  This year we are using dotsub which enables audio to be translated into a variety of language.
  • NotK12online. This is the most risky, unusual part of the conference. In an attempt to address of number of gaps in the conference, notk12online hopes to provide a space for additional presentations and critiques.  Hard to explain so head here for some better explanations.

While some will argue there is much of this kind of content already online, our target audience is largely those folks who may not have the skills or time to find it all.  So email the conference link or specific presentations to someone you know who would benefit.  Harness the power of networked learning.