Whew... it's been quite a week. First, I witnessed with my own eyes the phenomenon known as Educon in Philly (more later on this hopefully). I then flew home, picked up my car from O'Hare's remote parking lot and started driving north. I didn't even stop at home as I had little time to spare as I had to drive three hours north to Portage, Wisconsin, for a workshop I was giving today. Right now, I'm ensconced in a motel near the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, as I'm stopping by there tomorrow on my way home to help their education liaison with a Google Apps installation I set up for them.
Today's workshop is on my mind right and I just want to take a moment to reflect on it. Because of my presentations at WEMTA last spring, Sue Fulks and Jenny Casper of CESA 5 asked me to come work with their area tech coaches to build a collaborative learning space to support their work. We talked on the phone a few times over the course of the past few months to plan this event, and I have to say that we came up with a reasonable, varied agenda. See the slides attached to this post.
It's important to note that CESA 5 tech coaches having been working with McREL to employ various learning strategies supported by technology. Their guide is McREL's Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works, and I purchased a copy in order to familiarize myself with the framework. My initial thoughts on the book are that it doesn't seem particularly, wildly innovative, but it definitely provides an appropriate context for using technology in schools that are focused (maybe overly focused) on improving student achievement. While I take standardized testing with a grain of salt, I can see using these strategies to create a targeted plan for trying to address common concerns schools have these days.
So today was the big day, and it was great to work with people that I didn't have to particularly sell on technology. They were pretty competent with everything, and just need help here and there. They were collegial, engaging in thought provoking conversations and were very mindful of making things work for the teachers that they coach.
Our goal was to build a space in which these teachers could collaborate and share resources with team members. Being the Ning nut that I am, I built a basic social network for them to get started ahead of time. Today, we reviewed other online communities that I admire, discussed features that were needed in our space, and really considered how to engage others in a social network. The capstone on this work was a Skype conversation with the talented and generous Steve Hargadon who thoughtfully explained his involvement with Classroom 2.0, the future of social networks, and how these educators could start to think about building community in our newly created space. All in all, the timing of everything was good, I wasn't too overwhelming with information for once, and the goals of the workshop were met. It was a pleasure to read the comments given by participants in the Google Form evaluation I developed for this event, and I look forward to continued interactions with this group over Twitter and in the Ning we built together.
Here are the materials I created for the workshop including my slides, a Diigo bookmarking group containing most of the links cited in the McREL book, and a survey I created for my PLN to offer their wisdom. I'm particularly grateful to the 25 or so people who have participated virtually; it's not too late to participate, so add your thoughts! The survey results are public and can be found here.