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My presentation for NECC07 in Atlanta, GA will be on using OpenSource / Web 2.0 to meet the challenges of a K-12 Professional development program.
Professional Development Transformed through Personal Learning Spaces



Since December 2005, I have been working on a new paradigm for Professional Development - using my new district as the "case study". Professional Development 2.0 uses web 2.0 interactive tools in place of the direct classroom approach. Read about these tools and similar ideas in these great books:


Why?
I have been trained and the trainer in technology for over thirty years. Much of this time was spent struggling during after school hours trying for motivation and enlightenment during mandated sessions on some remote technology skill. As expected, participants, myself included, would leave these sessions frustrated and with no goals for using this skill in the classroom. I believe that overwhelmingly teachers want what is best for their students. They strive to utilize the best tools available and they realize that in twenty-first century schools this means blending technology into their teaching. The one-time session on topics with no pertinent relationship to classroom learning cannot succeed as professional training. I have noticed from my work with technology engaged teachers that it is not the knowledge of basic technology skills that leads them to success, but the experience of real change to their teaching through tools like online learning, blogs and wikis. Therefore, it seems that these should be the technologies used to capture teachers imaginations and lead to more ubiquitous use of the computers in their classrooms. I believe in the "build it and they will come" form of Professional Development. And I also am convinced that it can be built without major expense to a community.

How?
Step 1 was to obtain sufficient hardware and software.
Updating the hardware was easy as I found support across the community and the school board. We have entered into a 4 year lease of laptops for all teachers and a 5 year lease for new desktops for student use. The purchase contracts include warranties for the complete lease length.
Software resources were researched and many tools installed on all the machines. A few programs were purchased, but most are open source. Aside from the cost savings, an advantage of open source software is its availability for students use at home.
You can review our software choices at http://169.244.224.253/TeacherTech/software

Step 2 set a goal and process.
David Warlick posted in his Nov. 22, 2005 blog 2Cents Worth, "their goal should not be a staff development plan, but a self-development infrastructure". This self-development infrastructure became our goal. We developed the Three Ms: for assisting in teacher learning: Model, Mentor, and Maintain
Model - If teachers are to change their methods of teaching, they need to experience new methods in their own learning. I have found the best way to teach any age is by example. So, the following tools were setup:
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An online learning server using Moodle with courses written for the staff to learn use of Moodle. http://moodle.msad52.org.
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A district website and user friendly methods for teachers to create their own pages. The website runs on Metadot open source software. http://www.msad52.org.
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An ePortfolio system for all students and staff. We chose MyePort, an open source project developed by Audree Thurman at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Chandler, AZ. http://eport52.org
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Posted FAQs about the hardware and software with a method for staff to input questions and report their successes.

Mentor – Our goal is to enable learning to take place through communication at the teachers convenience. To accomplish this, we initiated virtual and human mentors.
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The human mentor position is filled by a certified technology teacher stationed in the lab. These teachers have evolved into student and staff mentors. They are available during the school days and “on call” through email at any time. The district tech staff is avail by phone to everyone during school hours to answer questions. And on request, individual or team sessions are scheduled.
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The virtual mentor is made up of a combination of tools:
  1. technology blog for integration ideas: http://sharonbetts.org/sshare/blog.html.
  2. a technology cadre using eport52
  3. email conferences using our groupware.
  4. online tutorials and examples posted on our website with feedback forms.
  5. online classes in Moodle.

Maintain – Moving your Professional Development into the Web 2.0 age, will require more time. Resources must continually be researched updated and expanded. Blogs, wikis and discussions need to be read and responded to in a timely fashion.

Examples
Using ePort as the vehicle: http://eport52.org/published/s/be/sbetts/home/1/

Using Moodle as the vehicle: http://moodle.msad52.net/course/category.php?id=5

Other "out of house" vehicles:
Steve Hargadon (open source area) started a Social Network in Ning named Classroom 2.0
I believe this is the personal Professional Development vehicle of the future. Consider joining - you won't regret it.

Others:
Yahoo or Google Groups, pbWiki, wikispaces, blogger, etc.
examples: Electronic Village Online (EVO) uses PBwiki
this wiki


Follow-up for Participants - brainstorming how I can help you and how you can help each other after leaving NECC.