Sunday, September 23, 2007

Web 2.0 Professional Development Resources

This year the first IT-related professional development push in my new school is with the librarians across the three Qatar Academy schools: Early years, Primary and Secondary. We have three libraries and, including the multimedia specialist, 10 staff. We meet for one hour, the very first hour of the week, and look at turning the information centres of this school into 21st century libraries that are dynamic, thriving and accessible 24/7.

As with any new initiatives in the school there is a vast difference in abilities amongst the existing staff, however there is one thing all the librarians have in common: they know nothing (or very little) yet about Web.2.0. I am really pleased to be starting here with the information hubs. The skills these teachers and assistants will learn and use will permeate throughout the rest of the school so that by the time the students and other teachers come on board with new modes of learning and retrieving and storing information, the libraries will be able to advise, guide and lead them.

So, I have started with a wiki page(s) on Digital Literacy and have mapped out some objectives and a plan of what to cover. I am hoping the motivation of my new colleagues will stay high and we can keep meeting throughout the year. Let me share with you the first 3 sessions. More resources mentioned below are also hyperlinked from the second wiki page on Web 2.0.

Session 1: Social Bookmarking
I played the 'Social Bookmarking in Plain English' video on YouTube.
Then we looked at delicious and explored the concept and practice of folksonomy. I had already set up a Qatar Academy delicious account for my Grade 6 classes and invited participation from the librarians. This was a success as immediately they could see the benefits and applications of this tool.

Session 2: More Social Bookmarking and Introduction to RSS
We reviewed the delicious skills and I foudn out that some personal accounts had been made and maintained over the week as well as the Qatar Academy account. Thought had also been given to sectional school accounts and a Primary school account was activated. We agreed that the information specialists in the school could be responsible for overseeing school accounts, we did not decide if it was a good idea for students to have the ID and PW of these accounts. I have given this information to my grade 6 students for the QA account along with discussion about digital citizenship and responsible sue of shared online resources.
I showed how bundles can be made to reduce tagging overload and also how accounts can be networked together.
The intro to RSS was a little shaky...this is a tough learning curve. I played the "RSS in Plain English' video and We Fryer's 'What is RSS?' and then encouraged the use of personal Bloglines accounts. This was where I lost most of the group. I think opening my current is in a mess really, although I can see through the mess...discouraged them. The head librarian said to me that once they saw how many of my feeds I was not keeping up with (!!...not enough time!!) they felt helpless and lost.

OK, back to the drawing board, how do I introduce RSS and not alienate my team?? I believe RSS in its practical form is one of the most powerful Web 2.0 concepts and I really wanted them to understand and use it.

Session 3: More Web 2.0 Concepts and More RSS
Over the weekend my luck changed! I was handed a fool-proof way of introducing essential Web 2.0 concepts in a practical and non-alienating way. Thanks to Atomic Learning and Vicki Davis there is now a Web 2.0 Workshop series of videos that covers introductory Web 2.0 terminology and then concentrates on RSS, using NetVibes as the main platform for feeds. We worked our way through the 5 lessons for setting your RSS reader today and then started the section on Feeds and Views. I had a winner here. The team were understanding because the videos were bite-size, user-friendly and on-target to what we needed, and they were understood by people who were struggling to make sense of this new jargon and new methods of information retrieval. All participants were able to setup NetVibes and start to feed through websites etc (they all subscribed to Vickis blog as well!).

A special mention to Joyce Valenza and Judy O'Connell, two information specialists who are out there and who have inspired me, as I am using their work to help inspire the team as well. Today we discussed Joyce Valenza's Information Fluency wiki and "You know you're a 21st century librarian if....." The library head mentioned she was going to take some of these ideas and use them in the new 5-year plan for libraries and media she is putting together...every little bit helps towards moving past the 20th century.

Thank you to all of my revolutionary colleagues who take the time to put online numerous resources via blogs, wikis and video material. I could never have produced the range and quality of resources by myself. This is such a wonderful way to share and help educators around the world develop skills and knowledge.

A quick mention also of a TechLearning eBook I found today called 'Professional Development through Just in Time Learning' hosted by Atomic Learning.

Also, seeing as this blog post is about professional development, check out the new WiziQ virtual classroom (it's free!).

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Susan said...

Thank you for sharing this. I have been wondering how to share these two tools with staff. I have a clearly idea now, thanks to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie:

This is all quite exciting and it is great to see the connection between instructional technologist and librarians.

The Atomic Learning piece to this equation is interesting. While I haven't watched these, I imagine these will be excellent pieces for follow-up as well as excellent discussion starters.

It is great to read your approach to Web 2.0 with your faculty as it is a means of comparing and reevaluating my own steps.

Thanks for sharing!
Ryan Bretag

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher said...

Oh, Julie. You have no idea how much it means that you like the atomic learning pieces. I'm really excited about them and poured my heart and soul into them!

I'm so glad that they have already reached into your school. It sounds like you are really doing some great things in your training session.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie,

This is fabulous! Since I'm officially taking over a library position this year, one of my goals is to bring the rest of the librarians up to speed with web 2.0. This is a great framework to start with - in fact, I am going to take some of your tips and use them with our full faculty PD time. The more of our staff exposed to these skills, the better :)

JoyceValenza said...

Thanks for your very kind words, Julie! Please let me know if I can help in any way!

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie, it was a real honour to be mentioned by you - I'm watching with awe and envy at the fantastic work that you are doing. You are providing all of us with some excellent ideas and processes. Many many thanks :-)

Anonymous said...

“The skills these teachers and assistants will learn and use will permeate throughout the rest of the school so that by the time the students and other teachers come on board with new modes of learning and retrieving and storing information, the libraries will be able to advise, guide and lead them.”

I found this comment interesting because it did not seem to work this way at my high school. The few teachers who incorporated technology into the classroom did not always know exactly how the technology worked. On quite a few occasions students had to help the teacher with a Powerpoint presentation or getting the projector to work. Anything that was incorporated in Web 2.0 was definitely beyond the teacher’s comprehension and capabilities. This lack of understanding and ability caused many students to look down on the teachers, thinking that they could not be very smart if they did not know how to use technology. I believe that if the teachers had a better understanding of the technology they were using they would have gotten more respect from their students.

I love the idea that if you train the teachers in different types of technology then the students will become more proficient in the same technology. However, I wonder why it doesn’t work in reverse. Today in most schools the students have a better understanding of the technology than the teachers, but most teachers do not seem to be embracing the technology that is available to them.


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