I've been asked to run one of the parallel sessions at this year's Naace conference. The session outline is:
Online social networking tools have the potential to support reflective and collaborative CPD both within and across schools and local authorities. This session will examine whatâ€™s possible, raise a number of issues, and suggest ways in which using such tools can become an integrated part of your CPD approach.
I'm totally convinced that, to get the best out of a conference you a) need to know where people are coming from beforehand, and b) have some means of follow-up. Keeping in mind that social networks really only work when the conversation is two way, I intend to use this blog to pose a number of "sparks" before the session. This is so that a) I can find out who, in my network, will be there, and b) collect some more examples of where online networks have supported CPD.
I am hoping that the conversation will continue into the session in Torquay. Although I need to think how that will work with an audience of 150+ ?
Being part of a network is all about what you do as an individual. It's not really about organisations or the other people in the network. So the session will conclude with some very practical ideas to help people develop their own personal CPD network, and how to encourage that development in with teachers they work with.
So, with all that in mind, what questions and issues would you want to see addressed in this session? I know that many people who read this blog won't be at the session itself, but that's the beauty of online networks - there are no physical or temporal barriers to participation.
This 35 minute narrated presentation (originally done for a NAACE conference in 2006) provides a very good overview of how Buckinghamshire are implementing the idea of a Learning Platform based on a range of different but complementary open source and commercial products.
The presentation is strongly focussed on the pedagogical, management, and cultural reasons for the decisions that have been made in Bucks.
If you want to meet up with Ian Usher, who is the guy behind the presentation, he will be at the BETT show this week. More details.
The BBC have started putting online a number of their internal broadcast/media training courses.
Anyone who is contemplating using podcasts as part of the learning toolkit would find this one very useful.
It is "a guide to preparing for interviews for radio, including live studio interviews and vox pops."
Podcasts and radio are very close relatives - so there's a lot to gain from working through this resource.
Tom Haskins on why blogging is a good thing for learning organisations.
It's a well-structured argument. One of the key points for me is:
Organizations thrive on open systems design, permeable boundaries and functioning feedback loops. Organizations die when closed, self-congratulatory and oblivious to environmental changes.
Konrad Glogowski describes how his classroom blogging community has developed over the past year, and how he has realised the need to cultivate that community.
If Frank Coffield had a blog I would certainly have it in my list of RSS subscriptions.
Thanks to Donald Clark I've just read Prof. Coffield's inaugural lecture (Word doc) for the Institute for Education in London. It's called: "Running Ever Faster Down the Wrong Road: An Alternative Future for Education and Skills". In it he eloquently describes the situation the learning & skills sector (post-compulsory education) is in, and offers well-researched suggestions for a "fundamental redesign" that will not necessarily "rock the boat", but will stop it "hitting the iceberg" it is currently heading towards at full speed.
Can this disorganised, troubled but pivotal sector still be turned into a learning system? That would require politicians and policy makers to change some of their fundamental beliefs and practices and to think and talk differently; institutions to reorder their priorities in favour of pedagogy; and professionals to be given the space and resources to improve their existing expertise. The chances are very slim, but it could be done.
He makes the point at the beginning of the lecture that the learning & skills sector is not unique in this situation, and there are parallels in every sector of education (and other public services):
The same fault lines or, to change the metaphor, the same malaises, run through the reform agenda of government whether they affect the primary, secondary, higher education or post-compulsory sector (or the health service or the probation service, for that matter).
Prof. Coffield has also recently criticised the DfES booklet on Learning Styles, calling for its withdrawal, saying "The booklet is woefully uninformed about research. It is also impractical, patronising, uncritical and potentially dangerous to students." (Source: IoE press release)
I couldn't agree more. The whole concept of learning styles is fragmented into dozens of different models that to use just one model, and to apply it in every case to every student at every time is going to cause far more problems than it solves.
For me, its important to recognise that different people learn best in different ways at different times in different contexts and with different subject matter. And that's where I would want to leave it. The use of learning styles questionnaires is too blunt an instrument to be at all useful.
NB. It looks like the booklet has been withdrawn. But a search will still turn it up on various school and local authority websites.
This podcast (15Mb) is a well thought out description of the approach in Scotland to using new technologies to support teacher CPD, and the implications of using those technologies.
The podcast is supported by a blog post, and was produced as part of the K12 Online Conference in 2006.
I was talking with some of my fellow learners on the Hull MEd course today. It was one of the rare occasions when we actually meet up face-to-face - it's not built into the course but there were enough people in the vicinity of Sheffield to make it worthwhile.
Anyway, I was trying to explain the benefits of being plugged-in to the worldwide network of edubloggers, as opposed to restricting communications within the university's VLE.
One the reasons I gave was that I learn just by listening-in to the conversations that are going on amongst people in the edublogosphere. It's not usually written in the academic language that University people seem to like - but it's the closest I'm coming to real-life action research - with people writing about what they've tried and how it went.
I love this quote from CS Lewis, from Vicki's Cool Cat Teacher blog:
"The next best thing to be wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are." CS Lewis
The main objection from people in the group seemed to be the amount of time that it takes to remain plugged-in to the network.
Vicki has summarised in a brilliant way how to create your own circle of the wise. I would encourage anyone starting out to read this post.
For me, my circle of the wise started out with Stephen Downes (who came well recommended from Debra Marsh). From there, the circle of the wise has extended to many people who are my key thinkers in the fields of learning technology, elearning & knowledge management. Almost all have come via recommendations from other people to whom I am already linked.
It's like being able to walk in a crowded conference room amongst many enlightening and thought-provoking conversations, to listen in, and to be encouraged to contribute where I wish. What a privilege!
What I don't understand is why so few people in academia don't appear to take advantage of this? Am I missing something?