Saturday, April 26, 2014

#EdTechBridge: Action Speaks Louder Than Words

During the April 26, 2014 #satchat, Tom Whitby made a great point regarding twitter chats. In education, twitter chats provide a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and knowledge.  Personally, I always feel invigorated after participating.  Don't get me wrong, the inspiration garnered from learning with and from other passionate educators has value.  I love creating relationships and growing my PLN.  I have made wonderful connections that have gone beyond just the hour long discussions.  In fact, I even enjoy the 'love fest' Whitby describes.  However, what is the value if we don't truly work toward advancing education.  We can preach about #edreform all day, but where is the action after the hour long discussion?

We can change that with a slight paradigm shift.  Let's not throw away any of the value of the connections we make as these relationships have value on their own merit for sure.  However, let's take this energy and create something real.

Our next #edtechbridge (sorry about the long hashtag, Tom) chat will take a look at Professional Development and how we as a community can impact that area in a way that is in line with the changing ways that people seek PD.  In my last post I referred to the @EdSurge infographic which takes a look our preferences in terms of approach to learning.

I have a few ideas and am confident that others will emerge from our next chat.  Let me share a few of my thoughts.

  1. PD must be accessible.  We do not need to complicate matters by creating an intricate system to share knowledge, but we must provide an accessible point of entry.
  2. Let's capitalize on the possibilities of 'just in time learning'. 
  3. Let's not get caught up in spending our time building an infrastructure when we can utilize what we have (back to making it accessible).
So, what do I envision? 

We have spent the past few months developing a wonderful community of #EdTech developers and Teachers who truly share the goal of collaborating to create better EdTech products in order to move education forward.  

We can leverage our shared expertise to take this mission a step further.  During our discussions an interesting idea came up regarding 'office hours' using google hangouts.

We have a google+ community for #edtechbridge.  Perhaps we can use that existing infrastructure to offer sessions as mentioned by @DaveMcCollom by developers and teachers where we share our expertise on a topic or product with instruction combined with this drop in 'office hours' idea which would enable personalized Professional Development combined with focused learning. I have to believe that opportunities like this will help to increase usage of many of the great tools out there while also providing opportunities for authentic feedback.  This would further develop the relationships we are speaking of through #edtechbridge.  As mentioned earlier, this approach would be accessible and sessions would be archived.  This could grow as our community sees fit.  Some people might offer 'office hours' on a regular basis while others may be interested in sharing their expertise in one session.  As a community effort, members of the google+ community could create their own events and the calendar would grow automatically.  This may sound ambitious, but maybe that's the point :)  I do believe that as a group, each taking a small part, we could develop something pretty great and move beyond chat and into action.  

We are very interested in your thoughts and perhaps this idea can serve as a starting point and through input it could change form to incorporate the ideas of others in the community.  

See you Wednesday, April 30 at 6pm ET/3pm PT/11pm GMT for our next #edtechbridge chat when we discuss possibilities for What we can do as a community to improve #EdTech PD.


  1. Steven, Here is a post to ponder on PD (Ya gotta love alliteration). Professional Development: More Than Just a Checkbox on a Form

    1. Tom, I read your article and have been giving it a lot of thought. The key point that comes to mind is the difference between PD as a requirement and PD as growth by choice. These are two very different things as you know. Those who want to check off the box will keep checking off the box.

      My experience (and that expressed by those in this community) is learning and seeking opportunities to learn based on interest and passion. It is often more of a hobby than an obligation.

      I generally chuckle when we have to complete our end of the year evaluation or meet our 100 hour (over 5 year) NJ requirement for PD. It takes time to locate any or all certificates or 'proof' of hours, but reaching the required number is a non-issue. That said, the ideas of DIY PD and choice in PD as you discuss in the article are the valuable forms of PD that I am advocating for. Our goal with #edtechbridge and the addition of PD opportunities is to make better use of #edtech because the stakeholders have an authentic interest in the learning. Perhaps these learning opportunities can serve the purpose of checking off the box, but I don't think that's the motivation for the participants and certainly not the motivation of offering the learning opportunities. Thanks for sharing the article. Your insight is certainly on point.

  2. Steve, I agree with the statement that 'learning and seeking opportunities to more of a hobby than an obligation' If I were to receive PD credit for all the PLN learning that I do, I would rack up thousands of hours a year in PD. I do it because I enjoy it.

    So often, PD in a school or district has absolutely nothing to do with what the teacher teaches - it is 'aimed at the middle' and if you are on an edge, you are left out. (as an Art teacher, I have spent many many hours in PD aimed at Math or Reading, or CTE, or whatever, but def. not art) -

    We are slowly getting my current district to realize they need to diversify and optimize PD more an give teachers choices rather than mandates. There are still those though that prefer to be 'told' what to learn and don't seem to do well with 'choice'.