"Open" resource of professional development

Not able to attend the national conference “EDUCON 2.2″ in Philadelphia, I joined via twitter (which anyone can do using the instant filters of #hashtags!). Twitter, freely accesible and community-sourced, could be called an “open” resource. Twitter functions at these events (and sports events, I’ve found) as a rich “back-channel” of communication that anyone can pick up.  Using twitter’s hashtag-capacity to separate out of the Tweetstream those documents having to do with the conference allowed me, 900 miles away in Chicago, to monitor the thoughts and questions surrounding the various conference presenters as they were happening, or hours later, at my choosing. It was as if I could eavesdrop on the presentations, and on the conversations in the lobbies outside. (Only I could do it according to my schedule, and in my pajamas if I pleased). 
By getting the experts together and having them discuss issues related to technology’s place in learning, the conference organizers want to have, in their words, “a conversation and a conference… not a technology conference. It is an education conference. It is, hopefully, an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools.” The “open” means I discovered today to pursue my own learning demonstrate the efficacy of these tools for authentic inquiry. When I blog about it and use it as the basis for further of my own inquiries, the technology has effectively extended the conference’s conversations.
If educators should model learning, these “open” resources for enacting one’s own authentic professional development exist, then why aren’t administrators pushing every teacher to do so? Or perhaps every regional board of education, since these are the folks who are supposed to oversee the professional development of teachers. 
As for myself, I will be examining some of the treasures I derived from the conference. Among them:
  • a cool example of the teachers as creative content producers, their collaborative job on “A Field Guide to Change Agents” was made right there, in the one hour session by the group–an impressive job:

  • resource of disruptive inspiration 
  • a link to an excellent new TED resource: Gever Tully on Tinkering
  • some observations from presenters/attendees:
    • Gary Stager’s observation on ed schools:  “It’s as if they’re trying to attract the Amish to the profession.”
    • “PD that works? Break teacher isolation and let teachers observe successful peers in complex environment that is classroom”
    • “start with the problem you are trying to solve and then find a tool that will accomplish that goal not the tool first.”
    • “If teachers do not have passion, students won’t either.”
    • “If we want students to be tinker’ers, experimenters, explorers, teachers, perhaps, should be practiced at tinkering
    • “challenge your teachers who resist to take on a new concept or technology in the classroom”
    • Why are people teaching kids to do powerpoint. What r we preparing them to be? Car salesman??
  • Something I should send to my reading specialist friends: Interesting… sustained voluntary reading model is synonymous with technology literacy… http://bit.ly/c86TLE
So the bottom line is, “Hey, Arne Duncan! While you’re racing for the top and trying to get better teachers, don’t forget the innovation, especially ones like this that allow each teacher to be the self-directed life-long learner he should be.”

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