‘DER: Lunch and Learns’ … hands-on, teacher-centred Professional Development

Things are really starting to get exciting at Davo when it comes to the Digital Education Revolution. I was reading Tim Hand’s blog post on the adoption of new technologies and reflecting on DER at Davo.

At my school, I can confidently say that I was the ‘innovator’ – I hate that word as for me it takes more than what I have done to be labelled as an ‘innovator’. I don’t think I’m terribly creative, or that I have created anything new – just kinda shown the way a little. I took on the role of DER T&L co-ordinator (I just invented that title by the way, do you like it?) and jumped into the wonderfully deep and exciting waters of a PLN – a twitter PLN. Based on the discussion on twitter, great blogs I was directed to, I was inspired to set up an online community by which our staff could communicate and share resources. We use edmodo for this.

Anyway, the group I’m the most proud of are the ‘Early Adopters’. The funny thing is that I tried to manufature a group of Early Adopters. It sounds silly, but I thought I should set up a group of people who would help me out with leading DER. I did create a group, but we haven’t done anything really. See, it was artificial. These early adopters must choose to experiement, they must choose to task risks. It must evolve. So, looking at the edmodo stream of chat and face to face discussion, I know who my early adopters are. They’re a great bunch. A varied bunch. Different KLA, different ages and teaching experiences, different skill level when it comes to technology. But they are there and they are enthusiastic. It’s way cool to watch!

But what is REALLY cool, is that I can confidently say that we have made it to a place where a large percentage of our staff can be labeled the ‘Early Majority’. The description that Tim offers (taken from the work of Everett Rogers) is that an early adopter is a person who is:

•Not technically focused

• Proponents of evolutionary change

• Pragmatic users

• Process oriented

• Averse to taking risks

• Look for proven applications

• May require support

• Tend to communicate vertically (focused within a discipline)

A number of factors have contributed to this development.

1. Our school is now fully wireless. Every learning space has wireless internet. This is very exciting.

2. The Year 9 group now have their netbooks. (Two classes per week with netbooks. Hmmm … better start taking this DER thing seriously.)

3. DER: Lunch and Learns

The first two are self-explanatory. The third might sound a little strange. So what are Lunch and Learns? Basically the idea manifested and grew on twitter – yep, the PLN are aflush with wonderful ideas. The notion of play is something that all of us tweetucators advocate. From this was developed the notion of 15 mins play:

So I devised a series of lunch time workshops that will focus on a variety of tech-related applications, software etc. These workshops occur once a week and are the springboard for teacher experimentation with technology, teacher discussion and a engagement with the ways in which technology can enhance learning. Here is a list of what we’re doing. Feel free to use this as inspiration for your own Lunch and Learns:

During the workshops I breifly become the ‘sage on the stage’ – explaining the application/tool/software that is the focus, giving some examples of it and starting a discussion on possible uses. The remainder of the time is spent playing around with it and chatting about how/why it would be used. Ideally teachers will go back, use it in their class and report back via edmodo about their experience – positive or negative. The feedback/reflection is a little slow in coming, but it’s something we’re working on.

Things are moving along at a nice pace at Davo. Teachers and students are learning – how cool is that?

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11 thoughts on “‘DER: Lunch and Learns’ … hands-on, teacher-centred Professional Development

  1. I’m jealous of your whole-school wireless network!
    As CCO, I’ve set up a school wireless network that teachers and students with personal laptops can connect to, but our DER network is only in 3 blocks currently: the art room, the home-ec room, 2 computer lab (fitted with 30 desktops all with LAN connection), a maths room, 2 science labs and the library. Not the greatest for this little HSIE teacher!
    We’re on the wireless schedule for July though… I can’t wait! (I’m sick of having to hassle for room swaps…) S2 has happened over the past couple of weeks, and the yr9 kids are really keen.

    How long do your L&Ls run for? Do you run them on the same day each week? (Our lunch break is for 40mins, and we have 3 duties per week… It’s really difficult to get staff to attend something in a break because of this.) I try to send out a short email once a fortnight, suggesting activities, programs or websites staff could use in their lessons, and also offering DET tips (checking the webfilter, resetting Portal passwords etc). I’ve been sending these irregularly over the past 4 years as CCO, but am finally starting to get people saying “Oh, thanks for that email!”

    I’ve also been thinking about starting a blog… a collaborative blog (I’m hoping you might be interested… can I email you?) that wouldn’t actually be much extra work for those of us who already blog, email or run L&L-type activities… My school does not have a history of sharing – we don’t do faculty programs, and the idea of common assessment is a very new one (and not really working in many areas!). I’m hoping that a simple blog may get people thinking about alternatives…

    • It is distressing to know that the installation of wireless is taking so long in other schools. I must say, we were surprised to have had ours fitted out so quickly. Before the final roll-out we had a lot of teachers complaining about it being unreliable. But now I don’t get any complaints. It’s really great and I hope yours gets completed soon!

      In regards to the L&Ls – so far we have had three and they have all been on the same day – Friday lunch. This has just been a matter of convenience for me as I have duty on other days etc. However, I will be changing the days as some people have mentioned that would like to attend but the day isn’t right for them. Hopefully we’ll get a couple each week with different people running the repeat session. That would be ideal.Lunch goes for 40 mins also.

      And, about the blog – I am very keen and know many others would be also! Let’s do it!

  2. Great to see the energy and commitment. I have found that by prescribing technology dependent projects for students – that teachers have had to play catchup. They (the teachers) often grumble at first, but once into it – usually love it.

    I think the real trick is getting teachers over the idea that they have to know more than the students about apps. I try to reassure them that they will not, and it does not matter.

    • Thanks for your comment David!

      I think assessment is certainly something that we have to tackle at our school. Often it is too much of the essay, question/answer format and lacks creativity, collaboration etc. Of course their are exceptions to this, but often the presentations, group research tasks, projects etc could be more effective if technology was incorporated to enhance the planning, process and results.

      I have lots of fun telling teachers that their best teachers are the students – that they need to take more risks and feel silly in front of the class once a week. This is innovation – trying something new, risking your ‘status’ as ‘holder of all knowledge’.

      :0)

  3. Pingback: Stealing an idea: Lunch and Learn « First Steps

  4. Pingback: Professional Development in Schools « First Steps

    • Thannks Terry. I’ve had a read of your post and I agree whole-heartedly about the problem of transmission style PD. It’s a realy issue at my school as often I am put in the role as ‘fill-in’ girl on staff development days. I recently presented at an ICT in edu workshop and felt frustrated by the ineffectiveness of transmission style of presentation that dominated the day.
      I agree with Mel Giddin’s ‘dream’ conference and tried to design my last workshop on this but it failed due to over-reliance on ‘stand and deliver’ pedagogy. If ever given a whole PD day to design myself I would love the inspire/excite/engage, up-skill then play design.
      I will have a look at the 31 days list that is on your blog.
      Thanks again for your honest comment.

  5. Thx Bianca, I hope you find it useful/interesting. I’m not familiar with Mel’s dream conference: must look it up. I think stand-and-deliver is the worst style for a school’s PD, in my experience.

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