Saturday, February 27, 2010

Professional Development or Presentation?

When you think of Professional Development, what comes to mind? I have attended a number of different teacher in services and seminars, and almost all have included some type of PowerPoint presentation with little to know audience participation. And, while I am a fairly self-motivated individual, if the topic was of little to no interest to me, I would simply collect my CPDUs and go home never to touch upon the topic presented again. It made me think a little more deeply (after the fact) about the situation I am going to describe here and what makes for good Professional Development.

Recently I was given the opportunity to make a Professional Development presentation to a group of my colleagues. I had decided to demonstrate some of my favorite Web 2.0 tools as well as share some suggestions for educational uses. I knew that this group was very proficient with technology so the tools I chose had to be dynamic and something interesting to the audience. While I had a general idea of the tools I wanted to showcase, I collected information from my audience in advance through the use of a survey prepared using Google forms. After reviewing the form, I had decided to prepare a presentation with various links to six Web 2.0 tools. Having taught Computer Technology for a few years, I know how to create slides that do not contain too much information, knowing that I would add to the information on the slides as I went through my presentation. I had worked on the presentation and once I felt that my visual was ready, I developed a dialog to go along with the information on the slides so that I did not just rely on my memory. Finally, I practiced my presentation for several days prior to the actual event to ease my own nervousness.

I attended the class that was the impetus for the Professional Development assignment
the night before. Ironically enough, the in class assignment was to get together in a group and develop a Professional Development presentation in thirty minutes, including a way of assessment about the training. While at first the task seemed daunting, the four groups were very successful and I was able to utilize one of the tools I would be showcasing the next evening in my group's activity.

While I felt that my presentation was well received and that the Web 2.0 tools would be used by my classmates to enhance their teaching, upon reflection, there are things I definitely should have done differently. I did not have any type of hands-on activity that my classmates certainly would have been welcome to. I did give examples of educational uses for the tools presented, demonstrated how to use them, and expressed my frustration with how to utilize one of the tools I had decided to present. But, in the end had I really provided Professional Development or simply a presentation? In all honesty, it was definitely more of a presentation. True Professional Development must include some type of follow through to determine if the audience actually found some use of the tools presented or not. It can never be a one shot deal.

I am going to stop beating myself up over this. My own experience in attending in-services and seminars led me to think that all I would need to do is present the tools and the audience would use them if they had a need. Sort of a "If you build it, they will come mentality." Maybe I was successful in introducing them to something new but it may have been a lot more enlightening for them if they had actually had a chance to try. Next time!


barky1777 said...

Hey Alice. I am greatly impressed with your self-assessment after the professional development. You truly examined many aspects of the presentation to concentrate on for next time. I will say that one of the strengths of presenting this to another tech class is that so many of us had our own laptops that we were trying out sites as you presented them, so we did have a hands on opportunity :) I did also appreciate the comment on true professional development in that it is not a one shot deal but must be revisited. This has truly given me something to think about when I am in the professional development class. Thanks for serving as a trail blazer for many of us. Your presentation, time, and effort were not only apparent but greatly appreciated.

Mr. Granger said...

So, if professional development requires hands-on, then what do we call the ICE conference, or NECC, or any of those like it? What about those full day seminars teachers go to with a room full of 100 people? What about some of the college classes taken all around the country every day? Are those not professional development as well?

Is it nice when there can be a hands-on component? Of course. But is it required? And the follow up? Is that really required? It depends on the mode of delivery, type of material, and who does the delivering.

If a tech facilitator/coach for a district is doing it for a small group of teachers, there should be hands-on and follow up. If it is the right kind of material. Let's take your presentation as an example.

Since you were demonstrating web 2.0 tools, we would have had to create accounts for most of the sites. I wouldn't have doe it because unless I'm sure I'm going to use a site, I don't register. Also, without stuff to put in a simplybox or other ones you showed us, what's the use of going there. Maybe there is a tutorial or a page that tells about the service, but you summarized and explained that for us. Saved time and we got the information. Good enough for me in that situation.

I hope the above demonstrates that not all topics are conducive to hands-on. No one can make a blanket statement, as your professor seemed to have done, about what PD is. As with most things in life, it depends on the situation.

Mr. Granger said...

Dang, barky, you beat me.