Tomorrow marks a Friday evening of professional development that the staff at my school has probably never been a part of. Taking an idea written about by Jeff Utecht and Dean Shareski, we will be having our own little LAN party centered around the K12 Online Conference. I put together some information about the conference and emailed the staff at my school about staying after school to participate in a unique learning opportunity. I think there will be ten people from my school participating. To me, it really shows the willingness of these people to stick around for about 2.5 hours on a Friday night to learn something new. Sure, I've encourage them with food and refreshments to make the evening a little more fun, but I think they realize the true value will be in the conference itself. We may try to uStream parts of what we're doing, but we've had some trouble with the chat feature due to district firewalls. I would love to have a backchannel chat going on as we view one of the keynotes together. If we can't do it via uStream, perhaps we can load Skype on the computers and give that a try. I don't know if this will work out or not, but if we do get it up and running, I'll post the link on Twitter and Plurk. I really hope people get something out of the time they will be putting in. I hope the teachers involved will see an example of how they can guide their own learning in ways typically not thought of. I hope they share the info with a friend or colleague who didn't attend.

I wonder if this type of learning will be the future of professional development for educators. Basically, it's On Demand learning. Teachers find the time to figure out what they want to learn, find the resources and connections to make it happen, and then learn. This is very different from what professional development has looked like in the past. Typically, teachers attend some type of conference, usually on their own time and out of their own pocket. However, these types of conferences obviously have time and location limits. School districts will also bring in speakers, probably at a high cost, and make teachers sit and get. But offering teachers opportunities to choose the topic of their choice, and learn at a time that is convenient for them, could be more beneficial. Districts can still make sure the topics are related to initiatives and standards. Is the fear that teachers will waste their time? Not take part? I would argue the opposite because the learning could be more meaningful. As hard as it is, districts need to let go of the control and give the reigns to the teachers when it comes to professional development.

I'm looking forward to our event. I hope teachers not only walk away with something they've learned, but also discover a new way to grow as an educator. Perhaps it can lead to more time viewing K12 Online presentations down the road - maybe another LAN party later in the year. The more the merrier, right?


  1. shareski // November 6, 2008 at 8:39 PM  

    Way to go Chad! I think knowing your clientele, setting a great environment and moving to great conversations is the key. I certainly didn't have a great turnout numbers wise but I believe in the concept and also am curious on the variations on the theme. Be sure to share more.

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