This is part 4 in the series of Building an online Professional Development Hub for your School
- Building a Professional Development Hub for your School- Part 1: Why?
- Building a Professional Development Hub for your School- Part 2: Characteristics
- Building a Professional Development Hub for your School- Part 3: Challenges
- Building a Professional Development Hub for your School- Part 4: Steps
- Choose a Platform
There are many platforms to choose from for your online PD hub for your school. There is no right or wrong decision which one you will choose. I would suggest you choosing the same platform, that you are or will be using for your students. It makes all the sense in the world to have your teachers experiences and work with the same platform your students will be working with. Questions to ask when choosing the platform (to make sure the platform has the capability to accommodate your requirements): Will it be an open to the world or a closed to only members of a specific (school) community platform? Does the platform have potential for future growth? How much technology know-how do you need to set up and maintain the platform? How much will it cost?
(Examples of PD platforms: WordPress Multi-user site (self hosted), Edmodo, edublogs, Eduplanet21, Ning,Google Plus)
- Build Content
It is essential, especially in the beginning, to start building content on your community. It is hard for beginners, with little or no experience in online learning to envision the potential of the hub when nothing has been shared, no conversation has taken place and no visible evidence of a return investment to the time you are asking them to spend on the platform. It is worth the effort to invest in starting to populate resource areas, share downloadable and demonstrate how quality contributions might look like. You might also want to strategically ask specific members (more experienced ones with online learning) of your community to contribute in order to make “how it could look like “visible for others.
- Set Expectations
Expectations can represent a challenge (see above). The clearer the expectations are for your school’s online professional development hub, the more successful the hub might become. Without set and communicated expectations, many hubs have fizzled out and did not fulfill the learning needs of the community. Once these expectations are communicated to members, revisit them often, embed them in conversations, in faculty meetings and faculty communications. If a pedagogical success, not only the mere existence of such online hub has become a priority and is to be part of the fabric of professional development at your school, expectations cannot disappear as yet another momentary initiative allowing members to fly under a radar.
- Model Use
Administrators, especially a principal or head of school, are lead learners of a school community. In order to model good practices, their presence, participation and involvement is crucial on your online PD hub. Administrators model quality contribution, feedback and sharing, important characteristics of a flourishing online community. The mere presence and involvement of administrators, not only models, but also communicates clearly the shift of self-directed and motivated learning in digital places. Outside the digital learning platform, every opportunity should be taken to “demonstrate the value found with your digital [learning hub]” and strategically identify learning taking place as a result of connections made through the PD hub.
- Support Basic Tech Skills
Different levels of comfort and fluency in regards to basic technology skills will be among your faculty. Make sure you have a system in place to support various levels. Walk in tech support, available step-by-step tutorials in paper form or for download, video tutorials of basic support involved in consuming, producing and contributing via the online hub. There is also the possibility of establishing a buddy system to connect less savvy teachers with mentors/coaches to support and guide the in becoming participating and active members of the school PD hub.
- Make Learning Visible
What could you share on your online professional development hub? Resources, links to articles, book reviews, etc.? What makes YOUR SCHOOL’S hub unique, if members start sharing the learning that is taking place in their classroom with their students and in their own learning as educators. It is natural step to start Documenting FOR Learning and to share that learning in a visible way in a variety of media platforms (text, images, audio, video, etc.)
cross posted at langwitches.org/blog
Silvia Tolisano is a Curriculum21 faculty member, author of the book Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators and founder of the Around the World with 80 Schools project. Read more at http://langwitches.org/blog.