it’s been a pretty trying summer and lead-in to the new school year, and i think that it’s going to remain a challenging year for many reasons. but i’m excited about what the school year holds because of how the faculty i work with seem to be soaking up new technology like sponges.
we have (thankfully) moved beyond our old way of delivering technology professional development to teachers by offering all-staff walkthroughs of a given technology — it was like force-feeding everyone the same medicine whether they wanted it or not, whether they needed it or not, and ultimately we’d be thrilled if two people out of a hundred took something they could use away from it.
last year we began the model of essentially offering mini-unconferences during our summer orientation and january in-service days, where my department and any expert faculty, would give sessions on some piece of technology — a useful website, an idea, a tool — and leave it open to our colleagues to choose their sessions. it would stretch my department every single time to come up with a breadth of sessions that didn’t cater to the same group of people but that also covered the varying skill ranges that you get when accounting for 100+ people, but it’s always been a good way to make sure we were meeting everyone’s needs. and i’m happy to say that we’ve never had a session that didn’t have at least a couple people interested in attending and in some cases we really stretched the capacity of some of our rooms.
in the last year and a half we’ve gotten folks interested in blogging, using flip cameras, animation, ditching powerpoint for prezi, jumping head-first into google docs, making voicethreads, figuring out what to use an ipad for, getting more proficient in using out interactive whiteboards, using better research tools like yolink, sweetsearch, and easybib… and the list goes on. we even took some time away from computers and just tried to build things.
we’re a better faculty for it, and there is no way that doesn’t translate into a more engaging experience for our students.