Viral Professional Development: June 2 - 22, 2008

Can VPD be Defined and Taught?

Can VPD be Defined and Taught?

by Jennifer Jones -
Number of replies: 2
As I follow the discussions here, I learn so much more about the ways individuals and organizations learn. I've never felt VPD was "teachable," but I do think there is value in identifying it as part of an organizational learning strategy. My concept of VPD has changed since we began this discussion and I have some questions. There are many new terms, strategies, philosophies regarding web-based tools for learning. Many of them involve such individualized application, attempting to define them only leads to argument and frustration. Here are some of my questions.

1. Is VPD something that can be defined as it applies to the masses, or is it something that resonates differently with each individual or organization? Are there any concrete components?
2. Can we teach VPD to others, or is it something we should just observe, identify and nurture within our organizations?
In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: Can VPD be Defined and Taught?

by Geoff Cain -
I would not be too concerned about "argument and frustration" -- sometimes that is part of the education process. Ideas should be tested and explored. You want to define it or you will wind up with jackanapes like me hanging out at the golf course and telling Andy I am in vpd.

Institutional support
I would like to take a stab at this. I think that vpd should be talked about, modeled, and described. I think that is part of teaching. What is just as important as that is creating an environment where vpd is possible. It is really important to win over your institution to allowing simple things like instant messaging. That took a while at TCC. I had a faculty member ask if she could use Instant Messenger on her work computer. I had lots of "I'll get back to you on that." Finally I said, "It is part of the installation set; lets do it." Another thing that just changed things pretty much over night was when Andy (coordinator of elearning) just decided that we were going to use it to communicate in our dept. and with the librarians. That was a huge step and I know our networking people were really interested in this. It has become part of the institution. I have worked at colleges where this was just not allowed.

Institutional antagonisim
We also act as the gadflys of the campus. We are constantly pushing the limits of what our institution can do. We need to do that to stay on the cutting edge of innovation. We have faculty who trust us because of this. They do not expect us to be administrative stooges.

Promoting communication
All of this helps build a climate where the faculty trust what we have to say about technology. I am also a teacher so I can actually show examples of what we are talking about in action. I think that vpd happens when there is a climate of trust and communication. My office door has to be more than just open -- I have to go out and talk to people. That was one thing I learned at TCC from Andy: go for a walk and say "hello." I will go into a building and just by walking in people will be reminded of something that they wanted to fix in Bb or some other issue. There is no work order or form to fill out -- we just work on problems together.

Opportunities for communication
When I have more than instructor together and one asks about a technology question, I always bring the other instructor into the conversation. I ask he or she about their experience and how they solve problems and then I will put in my two cents. This is not out of deference to them but to get them talking about these issues among themselves. By providing moments for faculty to talk to one another, we all get to benefit from the different teaching styles and approaches to teaching with technology. Once they figure out that they have something to learn from one another, they tend to talk to one another more.

In reply to Geoff Cain

Re: Can VPD be Defined and Taught?

by Jennifer Jones -
Geoff, these are great definitions of the components of VPD, and I think they are general enough they could apply for anyone. I've been exploring it more on the blog and have found it to be even more simple than I originally conceptualized. It really is all about communication and collaboration, regardless of the media. Thanks for being such an active contributor to the discussion!