Thursday, November 29, 2007

WOW of the Week: Recidivism in teacher professional development

Having listened twice to Derek Wenmoth's Professional Learning Networks keynote “Holding a Mirror to our Professional Practice” at the recent K-12 Online Conference I was all ears when Derek was interviewed on a recent Women of Web 2.0 webcast #51

Derek said a couple of things during the conversation that I thought were well worth blogging. For one thing he said that in New Zealand they had selected individuals in institutes to receive funding in hopes that this would enhance technology at the entire institute through a trickle down effect, but post-studies revealed negligible evidence of trickle down. This doesn't suprise me given the tendency in many institutes for there to be just one or a few people really interested in technology and the majority of people at those institutes either ignoring them or at best largely avoiding the issue. This seems to indicate that funding the norm is not necessarily conducive to the spread of technology at educational institutes and that an institution-wide kick would be needed in order to impact change.

The second thing that Derek said that really grabbed me was to relate how a colleague had been studying the effects of programs of professional development and had come to the conclusion that in cases where teachers did not pursue a course of PD beyond a particular salient event, they were likely to revert to teaching in the way they had been taught within a certain number of months (was it 7? I'll listen again).

Given the vogue in considering learning networks as ecologies, here is a case of ontogony recapitulating philogony, or the offspring or product of a training program reverting to features inherent in a long line of previous trainers. This is to say that something more than a one-off course or training session is needed in order to really cause change in teaching methods. Calling forth a phlosophy of Zen and the Art of Maintaining a Respectable Commitment to Professional Development, it behooves us to realize that change must come from within. It is something that must be worked at continually, through blogging and reading blogs for example, or listening to podcasts such as the one I refer to here, through podcasting oneself occasionally, and through familiarity with what is involved in doing all that in order to inculcate similar learning heuristics in students by MODELING for them, through a teacher's personal professional development habits, what techniques and methods will help keep learners (lifelong-learning students and peers) connected to professional learning networks wherein new-age knowledge resides.

In conference presentations lately I have developed a set of ten aspects of change that are required by educators in order to undergo the shift in mindset that will lead to paradigm shift appropriate to integration of the latest technologies into educational settings. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then the one shown here represents what I normally have to say on this topic. The slide pictured is from the show here:

Incidentally, I realize that I have two lists of items numbered 1-5 (hey, do the math!). The problem is that I was not able to get Google Presentation to number a second column of bulleted items consecutively after the first. If you know how, you might leave me a comment.

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