Viral Professional Development: June 2 - 22, 2008

Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Jennifer Jones -
Number of replies: 15
What technology tools do you use to support or participate in Viral Professional Development? Please share links or examples.
Does the technology get in the way of the learning?
Are you attempting sustainability with your approaches, or is it alright to jump from tool to tool as they emerge?
What challenges do you have in implementing technology for learning?
In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Jennifer Jones -
For my personal professional development, I use the following:

Twitter - I know it seems crazy, but this is the tool that enables me to connect with people all of the world who are much smarter and informed than I am! I've been using it for more than a year, so have been able to customize my network to my needs. It takes a while to get started. You're welcome to check out my contacts and follow them for a jump start! I'll give you fair warning that I post more than most people and it isn't always work related, but that's how I have been able to develop strong professional relationships.
My blog - It's nice to have readers who provide valuable feedback and links to other resources. It's only recently I've realized the potential network-building capacity of personal blogging.
Google Reader - I follow a number of edtech bloggers and Google Reader does a great job of keeping them organized. I like that I can add tags and then break out embedded code on other sites based on the tagging.
Chat - I usually keep Skype and the Gmail Chat open during the day to connect with colleagues from all around the world.
For instructor professional development I also use:
Ustream - I like to stream our sessions so people unable to attend in person can participate in the chat, or view the recording later.
Elluminate - We've purchased an unlimited license for our school, but anyone can get a free v-room that can host up to 3 people at a time.
Wikispaces - I use this site to set up materials for our sessions.
Ning - I have our instructor network set up here.
Del.icio.us - We network and share useful links.
Jing - I use this free screencasting tool to record training materials.
In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Jeffry Curtis -
OK...I registered in Twitter months ago, but the "following" thing...it's almost wrong. (~!|

The blog is cool, but even though there are many signed up few seem to participate regularly.

We have this issue in a couple of our industry sites, but one is 50,000+ in size so that one rolls fairly well. It seems that the same people always participate. I write it off to the Pareto principle; it seems to hold for students too.
In reply to Jeffry Curtis

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Jennifer Jones -
I thought the "following" thing was creepy at first too. Now I have 877 people following me and it's nice to be able to get instant answers to questions. When I posted asking what the big deal was with Flip cameras, I got about 10 positive responses and that helped me advise admin here about it. It's especially helpful when I'm in a PD session and don't know answers to things. Of course, it's not useful when it's blocked on our network in the classroom!
I think I've discovering there's a link between VPD and object-centered sociality. If there's not an "object" to center on for discussion, the social side of the network lags. That may be why some networks start out strong and then dwindle.
In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Sylvia Currie -
Speaking of the creepy "following" thing, I participated in a community software demo yesterday and one site used the word "stalking". You could see who your stalkers were and who was stalked the most. Okay now that might be taking it too far! dead
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Jennifer Jones -
Hahaha! I actually have stalkers stalking my stalkers. There are people who follow me who will write to me that they are concerned about other people who follow me.
In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Heather Ross -
I suspect that Jennifer and I use many of the same tools, but here's my list anyway.

For my own professional development:
  • My blog - I learn from myself (reflecting, reading old posts) and others who post comments.
  • Google Reader - How I follow the blogs that I read.
  • Twitter - although not as much as I did, and not even close to as much as most of the people that I follow do.
  • E-mail - I'm a bit old fashioned in some ways

To pass on knowledge for the professional development of others:
Again, my blog, Twitter and E-mail.
  • PbWiki - I use wiki's when I give presentations so that attendees or others can refer back to what I was talking about at any time. They can also pass this information on to others. This is my latest wiki for a presentation I'll be giving later this month.
  • My podcast - not many episodes, but I've been busy.
  • Jing - I use it to create screencasts of how to use certain tools.
In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Geoff Cain -
I use email first. My emails let people know that there is a formal workshop and that I am available electronically or face-to-face to work on the topic (or others) at their convenience.
I use Powerpoint, Articulate, and Slideshare for my face-to-face workshops. I also use paper. I followed Tufte's advice to create dense handouts and let the graphics in your presentations do the presenting for you. He hates Powerpoint, but if you listen to why and his advice on design, he can really help how you communicate with technology. The technology can get in the way of the learning if you are using the technology because it is there rather than using the technology for a specific reason and purpose.

I also use Camtasia and Jing.

I have been using Wetpaint and Wikispaces and the faculty seem to have less trouble with Wetpaint.

I am not sure what you mean by "sustainability."

Some of my workshop materials are here.
In reply to Geoff Cain

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Jeffry Curtis -

http://www.cartoonbank.com/product_details.asp?mscssid=1HFQWBBDM96U9LNMNTMTH5C3SCGC97EA&sitetype=1&did=4&sid=68259&pid=&keyword=powerpoint&section=all&title=undefined&whichpage=1&sortBy=popular

Thank you Geoff for bringing up PowerPoint.

I had a strong anti-PowerPoint bias long before I found Tufte. I like his work and ideas though. I swear…if people insist on putting massive text in a slide and READING it to me much longer I will scream; publically. 

This is a good primer on PowerPoint construction that many have found helpful.

http://www.agoodmanonline.com/publications/how_bad_presentations_happen/index.htm

In reply to Jeffry Curtis

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Geoff Cain -
One of my favorite workshops that I do on PowerPoint opens with a slide that has an animated gif of a broken down car and it has 18 bullet points. Each one comes in with a different sound and entrance effect. I stand up there with my back to the audience reading the bullet points to them. When someone starts to talk I turn around and say "do you mind? I am trying to read here." I like showing really bad examples to faculty and students because it gives everyone that sense of "no matter how bad I think I am, I am not THAT bad."
In reply to Geoff Cain

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Heather Ross -
Geoff, that's brilliant! I'll have to try that some time.

We had an instructor who wanted something like that in an online course because they thought it would be a good way of conveying information. Fortunately we talked them out of it.
In reply to Geoff Cain

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -

I'm very visual and celebrated the creation of PowerPoint to keep me from falling asleep in lectures but... I also want to scream at people who read crowded slides to me. It's an epidemic in medical education.

So I use a similar method to Geoff when teaching my teaching tips for residents.

In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Jeffry Curtis -

Development and Technology

It should be noted that early adopters will use and discard technology at a greater rate than the norm.

Most of my professional development is self-directed. Counting my Firefox tabs I currently have 34 tabs open. I read (often re-read), digest, synthesize and reflect on current research.

Technology Discard

An example of technology discard would include Internet Explorer 7. I can say that the only time I have trouble with it is when I use it(required by some sites). If the technology does not work well, with minimal fuss, I am moving on. I've no time to prove out systems or software for the under developed. And don't get me started on classroom response systems. (~!| What a time sucker.

Time

There is always the time challenge Jen.

My children are grown and technology is my hobby. I spend (have spent) untold hours learning so that I can facilitate student learning. Many do not have this opportunity to learn (or TAKE the opportunity). Just as we are learning in the technical trades, learning new technologies will need to be subsidized in order for it to be done. The consequences? Well...go to a PowerPoint presentation, with documents for slides, that is read to you and it should be obvious.

I agree with the posters who have commented on the 'community of learners' angle. Parker Palmer might be out of style, but the connection with students needs to be the focus of our professional development. How do we continue to connect with students? What technologies are they using? How do we use those technologies in learning (I hesitate to say 'classroom' because it really is so much more than the classroom now)? Do we, as educators, have the power to give up the 'gold standard' of the classroom and accept that there may, there just MAY, be another way that our current and future students learn?

Student Learning

After all student learning is what we are all about...isn't it?

So just what effect does VPD have on student learning?
In reply to Jeffry Curtis

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Sylvia Currie -
Building on Jen's questions, Jeffry's categories are useful for framing the use of technology to support VPD: Development and Technology, Technology Discard, Time, and Student Learning

The technology discard topic caught my attention. Like Jeffry I find myself less tolerant with tools that cause me grief (see my recent gripes about Facebook). I move on. There are so many more choices, and so many more opportunities to learn how to use new tools (VPD!).

But there's a big difference between individual use of technologies and working within the larger context of supporting faculty in an institution. Things happen very s l o w l y in institutions and people aren't always so thrilled about change or interested in taking the time to learn new tools. The people you find who are really engaged in VPD are those involved in faculty support.

Also when it comes to exploring emergent technologies there's always the issue of support. How many have an IT department that will only support Windows applications and one LMS? Plus there are the firewall issues and on and on.

I sense a bit of a shift in this culture of top down decision-making within institutions about who uses what tools and how they learn to use them. Perhaps VPD is at the centre because it opens up more opportunities to learn from other practitioners. It's only just beginning though! The system needs more pressure to be viral!

I realize I'm floating between different topics - use of technology to support VPD and VPD to support use of technology. How did that happen! mixed

Drilling down to the real question posed by Jeffry...what effect does VPD have on student learning? Negative effect. We're all too busy tweeting to worry about students! wink But seriously, any way that faculty can be encouraged, motivated, and facilitated to reflect on their teaching practice and share with others will have a positive effect on student learning.
In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Kyla Bates -

I use email sparadocially, my blog and twitter.  My blog and twitter are new tools.

I have decided that I will use lots of tools since different tools appeal to different people.  I feel it is kind of like the shotgun approach.  I am trying to reach them where they are rather than forcing them into my mold.  Also if I connect all my tools, the potential is there for them to discover a variety of tools also.

My most useful tool for VDP is me.  If an instructor comes with a question, challenge, etc,  (in person, phone or email) and I am excited to show them what they asked and build on it, they generally go tell their neighbor.  "Look at this cool way of doing this that I just learned"  "Did you know that we have this to use?"  My goal is to make myself as available as I can to reach as many people as I can who will in turn reach out to others.  This works well in the education field, where faculty and staff are willing to collaborate. 

I have been advertising Respondus Lockdown browser for two years.  I have two instructors using it and finally I am getting questions about it from other faculty.  I am betting by the end of next year it will be in general use.

I just completed a survey of faculty and one of the questions was how did they like to be trained.  Almost half said "on demand".  Another about 19% said formalized training.  The next portion was online, at their own pace.  Besides using this information for my services, I wonder about how we translate that to students?

In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: Technology to Support or Participate in VPD

by Jeffrey Keefer -

One of the sets of tools I use, which I see a few other people here also use, are screen capture technologies--SnagIt, Jing, and Camtasia--all from TechSmith.

I presented a poster session last week at ASTD entitled Using Screen Capture Technologies to Visually Deliver Stellar Learning. While I have used these programs (especially SnagIt) for many years, I find that one of the best forms of education is having to teach it to somebody else. Thus, I knew enough to pull together and submit a proposal, but it was not until it got accepted and I had to prepare a poster and to present it to others that I really had to learn them.