Online Professional Development

Online Professional Development

Image from Creative Commons.

Our professor challenged us to participate in four twitter chats and four webinar sessions for this module. We were provided a resource list to aid in our selections based on our own affinities and content areas. I chose to be an active participant, as I firmly believe there is a direct correlation between what I put into an assignment and what I gain. I selected a cross-section of chats and webinars to broaden both the experience and my interests as a professional. I detail each to offer my reflections on this project. Highlights from each of the twitter chats and webinars follow.

Twitter Chats
I had never experienced a Twitter Chat prior to this assignment. Initially, I experienced sensory overload as information streams from all directions. The moderator poses a series of questions, usually labeling with a Q and a number identifying the order ie – Q1, Q2, etc. Responders use A1, A2 respectively.
When I was a young man, I worked as a paramedic and firefighter. Chats remind me of water traveling from the hydrant to the pumper and then through a smaller hose increasing pressure. The orifice diameter is reduced and then projected through an even smaller tip at the nozzle. The combined results can blow an individual off his/her feet. With all the responders and my twitter feed moving at a lightning pace, an information stream struck me similar in force to that nozzle pressure.
In the beginning I was overwhelmed, paralyzed by the pressure of information. I found it challenging to keep up. However, the more I reflected on the experience, I discovered how much I learned, retained and bookmarked for future use. I felt valued as a participant watching my peers favorite my tweets and retweeting them. I gained numerous followers, which became a high for me. I felt validated as an educator and resource for peers and those I viewed as mentor-types. Honestly, that was a new experience for me and became my preferred vehicle over webinars.

Twitter 1 – October 4, 2014
#satchatwc Topic – Six Traits of Innovation
Moderated by Shelley Burgess
Led by Don Wettrick
Chat Log
The speed at which information flows during a Twitter chat still astounds me. If you know much about fire hoses, that metaphor still sticks in my head. You have hydrant pressure (the normal Twitter feed for SATCHATWC), the pressure increased by the engine (the given chat time), and nozzle or tip pressure (all the individuals spitting information that comes out during the chat time at my screen). It feels better now after the fact. In the moment, I felt blasted by the stream. It felt necessary, like the water when near a hot spot and yet, the initial force stunned me.
Due to the speed of information, I was unable to capture every single post I made. I learned an amazing amount of pearls in the discussion. Wettrick offered many eye-opening thoughts on innovation and what truly makes a daring educator.
Please view some highlights of my experience here.

Twitter 2 – 10/12/2014
Led by David Prindle @dprindle
Chat Log
Discussion centered on educators’ learning spaces. Again, information flowed rapidly. Even though the pace was quick, I enjoyed the constant interaction and side debates/discussions that resulted. Maybe I enjoyed it because I was better prepared for the massive flow. Did not seem to have as many participants as my first. Could be topic-driven, though I am not sure. I learned a great deal from my fellow participants. I want more, though.
I will try a different venue next and see it a different topic gets my juices flowing. I learned about a variety of learning spaces and that many administrators still harbor antiquated views as to what makes a great learning space.
I have captured a sampling of my participation here.

Third Twitter – 10/14/2014
Led by new tech network
Chat Log
Discussion centered on Maker Spaces. Boy did I learn a great deal. The pace was not as brisk as there were less folks involved than on my two previous Twitter chats. It was good to get a cross-section for comparison.
The biggest benefit was getting a nearly private lesson about Maker Spaces. I was able to contribute to the discussion in a more positive manner once I glanced at the supporting material and the resources I found as well.
I captured a sampling here.

Fourth Twitter – 10/15/2014
Led by Lisa Dabbs @teachingwithsoul
Chat Log – Not Archived
I joined this New Teacher chat because I am an experienced educator and felt I would have something to offer the conversation. I learned that I have the tools now to be an effective mentor should I get the opportunity to be an administrator again. That passion burns brightly still.
A sampling of my participation can be found here.

Fifth Twitter – 10/15/2014
Chat Log
Led by Tammy Neil
Discussion centered around bullying in schools. I am drawn to the subject and felt compelled to participate to explore how others viewed and dealt with bullying. This experience challenged me as I chose simultaneous engagement with #ntchat. I surprised myself keeping up with both conversations at the same time and gained insight in both topics in a relatively short amount of time.
Please see a sampling of my participation here.

Right off the bat, I did not enjoy this experience. I found it off-putting that presenters read slides. I felt death by Powerpoint. Instructors presented as talking heads and only a few offered live chats to facilitate real time discussion. Answers to questions were slow in coming if at all. Instructors used words like “great question” for some and not for others, invalidating the questions of those invested in the topic. So much of my MET program challenged me to rethink how we present lessons. It is shameful that presenters do not practice what they preach and use archaic methods to share their information. I found myself forced to find a few pearls of knowledge amidst a sea of shells to validate my invested time.

Webinar 1 – 10/7/2014
Title – Identifying Autism
Led by Dr. Christopher Smith
Dr. Smith just marched on with his presentation and the chat was on the side. Less real interaction with the participants as in the Twitter chat seemed to make things move slowly along. Q & A added to the discussion toward the end.
I learned about the DAVE Assessment and proved to be an asset as that is a recent development in early detection.
Screen captures of the webinar can be found here.

Webinar 2 – 10/9/2014
Title – Effective School Leaders
Led by Eric Hanushek, PhD
Webinar Recording
Webinar Powerpoint
The speaker (Eric Hanushek) presented his research and made sweeping generalizations based solely upon Texas public schools. Based upon what I read prior to the webinar, I thought a more “how to be” approach was going to take place. Dr. Hanushek looked at statistics as opposed to skill sets.
I felt the format limited participation. Questions were chosen again by the moderator and some where addressed and some were not. Many of the questions participants had were not addressed by the researchers. Also, independent schools were not included in the study and longevity assumptions were invalid for that community.
I felt I wasted a great deal of time on this webinar versus what was gained. I would have appreciated either more comprehensive research, or at the least, a greater clarity of the purpose of the webinar in advance.
Discovering a correlation to public school performances in impoverished schools and the relatively short retention of principals became my key takeaway.
Please see a sampling of my webinar screenshots here.

Webinar 3 – 10/15 /2014
Title – Digital Citizenship
Led by – Kelly Mendoza
Chat Log
Video Recording
I enjoyed this one a bit more. Audio had some real challenges as they did a sound check before the webinar started and things were fine. Then the moderator and presenter left. When they returned the audio sounded like they were underwater. Took over a quarter of the allotted hour to fix. I found it challenging to remain focused. I was at least pleased that slides were talking points developed further by audio presentation.
Lots of side-chats began happening. One man mentioned his school was starting toward issuing Digital Drivers’ Licenses for students. Upon questioning he admitted that only teachers were on the community that design the DLL. Also, the DDL did not permit anything. I suggested he go back to his group and use the DLL as a computer pass in the library. At least have the DDL mean something on campus so students will want to have it, rather than just issuing a completion card.
My key takeaway proved to be discovering a host of tools at the Common Sense media website that I can access and use in classrooms.
A sampling of screenshots are included here.

Webinar 4 – 10/15/2014
Title – Community Vocational Assessments And Why They Impact IEP
Webinar Recording
Moderater – Jerisa Maseko
Presenter – Matt Fideler
Mr. Fideler read his PowerPoint slides to us. The presenter also chose to highlight certain questions with comments like “Great question!” as opposed to others. I found this off-putting. We do not teach each other like we are supposed to treat students. Maybe this is because I have been taught better practices through this MET program and I have increased expectations of others. The point of this was to show Project Hire’s plan to help Special Education students get to a point where they can work outside the home and engage a productive life.
I would like to incorporate opportunities like those mentioned for future students. Having community business support seems critical and that was my greatest takeaway.
Some sample screenshots are included here.