15 April 2009

Ready, Set...

I don't think Washington is different from any other state when it comes to its current economic situation. We're in trouble---with the state facing a $9B shortfall in the next biennium. Budget cuts are getting ugly, especially for education. Of course, one of the first things to get thrown out is money for professional development. While various organizations scramble for the few dollars which will be left, I wonder if it's time to really scale up on-line forms of PD.

I was remembering two EdTech incarnations from the past year. They have been around for a few years, but this was my first year to "attend." The first was the K12 Online Conference. I was a bit sporadic in my presence there; however, that really didn't matter. Even now, you can go watch any presentation and learn to your heart's content. You can do so by yourself or with a learning circle in your building. Ditto for Educon. I liked being able to hang out on my couch on a Sunday morning, watching a UStreamed panel presentation and participating in the backchannel discussion with people from all over.

I believe that these formats would work just as well for other topics: science, math, art, primary, RtI, etc. Personally, I'd love to see more conferences and wiki "archives" like Educon. With fewer dollars for PD and an ever growing need for focus on student achievement, we have to find different ways to support teachers. What I wonder, however, is how many educators would be willing to participate in this way. It's different---it's asynchronous...it may be something you do by yourself (and therefore miss out on conversation)....it may not be as interactive in terms of getting questions answered. Does that make it too weird to engage with for the average (in terms of tech savvyness) teacher? If so, what sorts of supports do we need to put in place?

1 comment:

Brent said...

I think you bring up a great point here. Working for the ESD I'm finally seeing people that would have thought I was crazy to want to try to do online PD a year ago who now are seriously thinking about how this might be an option for cost effective service. I think that most "non techie" teachers have not thought about (or experienced) effective online learning and teaching. Because of this lack of experience, I think their frame of reference has to do with trying to make sense out of how they would do their f2f training online. I find this to be a great opportunity to help train our PD folks about effective online learning pedagogy. I also think that we need to start with some hybrid options, such as synchronous/asynchronous opportunities for PD. The VC network in WA combined with webinar tools might be a nice start. How about holding office hours for those that need the real time interaction? What about a statewide or regional Moodle servers? I'd love to have this conversation with other PD folks in our state...