An exploration of two collaborative digital tools educators can use to facilitate and enhance professional development for themselves and for their team.
Last summer I attended the PBL 2019 conference in NAPA with two colleagues from school. We all agreed it was an amazing growth experience, and well worth the $$$ spent by administration to pay for our flights, accomodations, food and conference fees. We were grateful and inspired to implement Project Based Learning with our own classes, but we especially couldn’t wait to share our notes, project ideas, and new techniques for assessment with the rest of our middle school team.
And then school started.
And we didn’t get to share.
Because there was no time.
And that’s what I thought about when I read ISTE Standard 4: Collaborator
Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems.
Dedicate time! Well there’s the thing – time. If the Professional Development at your school is like ours, it is probably part of a five year school development plan, carefully planned and budgeted. PD is scheduled with timed agendas. There might be an opportunity to squeeze someone like me into the program to share the quick and dirty version of my summer PBL experience. But, is that effective?
I suppose, what I’m thinking is that even though my classroom teaching is impacted by all my wonderful conference experiences, wouldn’t it be wonderful (and cost efficient) if there was a way for me to share the love with my colleagues?
And the answer to that question might be found in ISTE Standard 4a, which states that educators dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology. If there is no time within the set Professional Development agenda for my colleagues and I to productively share our conference experiences, maybe using technology can help us share the love.
It has been firmly established by many researchers that effective Professional Development is especially necessary now, one fifth of our way into the 21st century. Teachers need to learn new pedagogy to prepare students for life and work in an increasingly globally connected and technological future. A curated list of websites and papers highlighting the need for new pedagogy and effective professional development can be found in this Wakelet.
My colleagues and I are ardent teachers and learners, so how do we share what we know? I am blessed that our school is using Office 365 for students and teachers. We all have access to the suite of tools including OneNote. I’m not sure I can think of a more convenient, efficient, accessible or easy tool for collecting, storing and sharing our combined conference and workshop experiences for all colleagues across all grades and subjects. OneNote has a content library for shared information as well as a collaboration space for everyone to collaborate. Teachers can access a wide knowledge base in their own time and at their own pace.
Microsoft in Education has many training tutorials to help you get started on your OneNote journey – my advice is start a notebook and begin exploring on your own. Each new notebook has clear instructions for new users. The helpful video tutorials in the slider below are clear and easy to follow.
Create a new section titled [conference title] [conference date]
Add pages for specialization workshops
Another tool for quick sharing with a department or a PLC is Wakelet. The Wakelet website specifies thata wakelet can be used to Curate and share your teaching experience – saving your best moments, resources, conference take-aways and more.
I have found that the best way to understand Wakelet is by creating one myself. I have already shared one with you; it contains the references I used to research effective professional development.
And here’s another one I created to highlight the two digital tools that can be used for sharing conference and workshop experiences with a PLC: OneNote and Wakelet
The reasons I like Wakelet are because it is free, easy to use, and the links come with thumbnail images of the website as well as a brief description of the content.
In this Wakelet about Wakelet, creator Miguel Gulin has compiled many Wakelets explaining and demonstrating the various ways a Wakelet could be used in the classroom, and I’ll add, for professional development.
Create a Wakelet titled [coneference name] and [date]
As presenters are presenting, or exhibitors are sharing their hardware or software drop their information into your wakelet. You can add:
Sharing a Wakelet is as easy as a sharing a link. The wonderful thing about Wakelets is that teachers can collaborate on the same wakelet, adding any information that may be relevant to the wakelet. Besides using Wakelet to curate information from conferences and workshops, educators can also use wakelets to collect and share teaching ideas that are working, effective classroom management skills, technology tips and hacks, lesson plans, ideas for alternate assessment, the list is endless.
I have shared two digital tools that quickly and easily allows teachers to pass on the wonderful knowledge that they acquire from conferences and workshops to their colleagues. This can be done with a quick link shared by email, or in a shared OneNote notebook. Other teachers who were unable to attend the same conference can then read, watch or use the information in their own time. The information will always be available to reference when needed. The collection will grow and develop as the needs of the team or PLC change and develop. Sharing the Notebook or Wakelet with new teachers as part of their onboarding will help them quickly ‘get up to speed’ with the team.
That’s how we share the love.
10 ways to use Wakelet’s new collaboration feature. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ditchthattextbook.com/10-ways-to-use-wakelets-new-collaboration-feature/
Granowsky, E. (n.d.). 7 Elements of Effective Professional Development. Retrieved from https://www.iacet.org/news/iacet-blog/blog-articles/7-elements-of-effective-professional-development1/
Guhlin, M. (2019, October 3). Use Wakelet Templates in Teaching, Learning, and Leading. Retrieved from https://blog.tcea.org/wakelet-templates/
ISTE Standards for Educators. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators
OneNote help & learning. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://support.office.com/en-us/onenote
Professional Development for 21st century Educator. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://wakelet.com/wake/6KyrUW3A_xIxpmgAHN2V1
Rouleau, K. (2019, May 24). Tapping Into the Expertise in the Building. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/tapping-expertise-building
Schoology. (2018, December 17). How Effective Teacher Professional Development Relates to Student Achievement. Retrieved from https://www.schoology.com/blog/how-effective-teacher-professional-development-relates-student-achievement
Wakelet ebook.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/15MPavRhnwSWyHbNucLPadzOXCl_YiIUY/view