Have you ever submitted a proposal for something and sent it off and then forgot where you'd put it, so when your proposal was accepted and it came time to act on it, you couldn't retrieve it or remember exactly what you had proposed?
I have just submitted a proposal for a chapter which might appear in a book on teaching ESL online, assuming the book proposal itself is accepted.
In writing the proposal I realized that it answers succinctly in 300 words what people frequently ask me, how did Webheads come about, and what is Webheads anyway, and how does it fit into a framework of professional development? I have referred to this 'fit' as 'teacher autonomy' in this post here, for example, and also in the Slideshare presentation embedded below.
So here's the proposal. It would be useful if it attracted feedback, but apart from that, since it's here, I'll be able to retrieve and remember it later, and in case anyone asks me again about Webheads, this will be a convenient place to point them.
Webheads started in 1998 as an online community of EFL students and teachers learning together how technology facilitates language learning through computer-mediated communication. By around the turn of the century it was being dominated by teaching practitioners who in 2002 came to see themselves as a community of practice (CoP) known as Webheads in Action (WiA). As communication over the Internet expanded rapidly into voice and video, and with Web 2.0 making it possible for many users to create content online and share it in cyberspaces promoting social networking, many such communities arose and began overlapping in multiple memberships. This paper explores the concepts of groups, communities, and networks, and relates how WiA evolved from a group to a community (specifically, a CoP), and how this CoP developed contacts with others to function as part of a much wider distributed learning network (DLN) of teachers training one another.
The case of WiA models professional development through connectivism. At each node in the DLN, there is a person who is passionate and knowledgeable (and wants to learn more) about some aspect of teaching through technology. Collectively the nodes comprise the knowledge-base to which each member in each overlapping community has access. Connectivism provides a framework by which the development of pathways of access to that information is of primary importance to the information itself. Professional development then becomes a matter of educators blazing pathways to create channels through which each other's knowledge can be shared and made to flow in all directions, creating a dynamic system conducive to informal, just-in-time learning.
This paper describes how members of WiA utilize such connections to maintain conversations that enable everyone to learn about and practice with latest innovations in educational technology, and contribute to innovative and transformative teaching practices.