Welcome back to what is commonly referred to as the second half of the school year, but in reality unevenly splits our academic year into two sections; regardless, I hope everyone had a restful holiday and is ready to begin the year anew, armed with resolutions that are bound to change the world, or at least your place in it.
One of the things that is high on my list this year is to begin transforming how we view professional development. PD’s usual place in education is to sign up for a workshop, go to said workshop, learn, and then try as hard as we can to practice and apply those skills in the classroom. It’s always an external process. What if if, instead of you going to the class, the class came to you?
Darren Draper, a Technology Integration Specialist from Salt Lake City, and Robin Ellis, an instructional technology specialist from Quakertown, PA, have decided to offer a second round of what is called Open PD. Every Wednesday night starting on January 23rd, from 6:30pm to 9:15pm, they will offer sessions live online using Skype and a screen-sharing program called Yugma (both free) to teach you about various social software applications and the possibilities for their use in the classroom.
The first cool thing about this? I dropped in for a bit of their last session, offered in the fall, not knowing what to expect; what I found was that not only was I connected to the class, but so were about 15 others from around the world and we all could talk and contribute, and especially ask questions when we weren’t clear about something! It was like being in class without physically being there. At one point, I was out on my deck enjoying the sunset, and taking their class simultaneously.
The second cool thing? They are going to cover topics such as: wikis, Google applications, del.icio.us, flickr, blogging and social networking (facebook, ning, etc.) in a manner that is non-threatening and open, thus the name OpenPD.
If you have the time, this class is well worth your while regardless of your familiarity with the topics at hand. As Darren states in his post about the class, ” the sum of our knowledge is what truly makes these new technologies so appealing.”