Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stop the Baloney! - A PD Revolution in 25 Keystrokes

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by Sean Wheeler

Here's a familiar scenario.  I'm at a school meeting.  Perhaps it's a department meeting, maybe a district leadership meeting, even a staff meeting.  You've been there.  You know how these things go.  A familiar refrain is heard.  "We need a transition plan to provide more effective professional development, and we need to carefully develop a roll-out of the plan once it's created.  Are there any volunteers to do a pilot so that we can study our revised professional development plan?  We'll meet again in a month to see how our pilot program went, and then we'll create scaffolding so that we can increase buy-in from the district, staff, or department as a whole."  I raise my hand and suggest that we begin to explore Twitter, particularly #edchat, as a resource for individualized professional development.  This is met with some lip-service as a good idea, and then the suggestion is ignored or turned down because "we don't have time" or because "some teachers need to be trained on how to use technology and we need to be sensitive to those needs."  

Baloney.  We need to stop thinking like this.  

I firmly believe that every education staff in the world could be taught how to begin getting valuable professional development and classroom resources in less than ten minutes and with  twenty-five keystrokes.  To put twenty-five keystrokes in perspective, I have to type twenty-six keystrokes just to check my district email.

Here's my roll-out plan:

1.  Type "" into your web browser. (18 keystrokes)
2.  Go to the search bar, even without signing up or logging in, and type "#edchat" (7 keystrokes)
3.  Scroll, click, peruse, learn.

If a district employee can use a keyboard, they are only 25 keystrokes away from an unlimited and valuable pool of constantly streaming resources and conversation.  To make things even more specifically tailored to the audience, substituting "#edchat" with any of the relevant hashtag searches found here, would help to more carefully match content area or interest.

No following, no tweeting, no registering.  

20 keystrokes, 10 minutes.  That's all.


  1. I'm with you, but what does the state say? They currently dictate our PD because of our report card status. A lot of teachers are already doing this. Everyone could and should. But as it stands now The State wants everyone to sit in a room and hear the same information, then analyze data in the same way. They want uniform accountability in the form of data sheets and large presentation attendance forms. In the minds of many no following, no tweeting and no registering translates to,"no accountability."

  2. I'm not sure the my state, Ohio, or any state for that matter, would be against teachers learning. This isn't about fulfilling state mandates, it's about fulfilling the mandate that is embodied by the students sitting in our classrooms everyday. If we continue to see professional development, a fancy phrase that simply means learning, as something that is handed down from on high, we'll entirely miss the chance to be proactive in our own growth as teachers and administrators. And if teachers are saying that we will only grow as teachers if someone tells us to, we're in a heap of trouble.

    On the state front, though, I'm also working with a few people in my state to get official recognition of this kind of teacher-learning as part of our required professional development. I meet with the Ohio Education Task Force, a body of legislators and state-level education officials, to discuss this possibility on August 2nd. My discussions with people on the task force have been very positive and they are interested in this line of thought.

    Bottom line - Do we want to have control or don't we. Please read "Networks are Power - The Teachers" on this blog to find out a bit more about ideas surrounding
    networked learning by teachers.

    Thanks for the comments and keep them coming!

  3. I get what you are saying. Teachers should, have and do, take responsibility for their own learning so that they can be more effective in the classroom. Right now, there is no excuse for that personal learning and research not to include digital tools and resources. It Sounds like what you are talking about is having your district embrace Twitter for formal, district professional development. I'm saying that encouraging Staff to poke around in the Twittersphere isn't nearly structured enough for the state, or the district for that matter, to count that as official PD.

  4. This may be the simplest, yet potential the best way I have seen to get teachers on twitter to date. Once again your genius shines through. Thanks!

  5. I know this post was several months ago, but I'm getting ready to present professional dev. next week to teachers about using Twitter to develop a PLN. I loved the idea that they don't have to sign up, I thought you did, even to search. When I go to I can't find the search box. Anywhere! the only time is see it is when I log in . Is this a recent change? Thanks for your post - superb info!

  6. Type in and you should see the box.