Technology and Professional Learning Networks

I teach in a district where technology is available, but not always used in ways that are above and beyond just doing the same things differently. Our teachers have access to SMART boards, but many simply use them as another form of a white board. We have computers, but most of our student labs are running outdated XP versions. The computers themselves are slow and clunky, big CPU boxes more suited to the early 2000s era than 2015.

Technology staff development also falls to the wayside. When it is offered, very few educators in the county attend unless it is a tool they are required to use for part of a daily task. This year I tried to offer some different PD sessions in this area. I’ve been working on my certification as a technology integration specialist, and wanted to try my hand at it. My best attended session had 6 participants. My lowest had 2. My PD fell in the line of
using different apps for iPads, how to use an iPad, and using QR Codes. Sometimes I had a teacher or two tell me they couldn’t attend due to a conflict, and hoped I would offer the session again in the future. It was disappointing to have so few in attendance, but I have found the same thing occurs across the state of WV from other TIS members who have been in my boat. They offer training, and very few attend.

We want to offer technology to our fellow educators. We want to embrace the new things being done, and have our students embracing skills for jobs that do not exist yet. However, the interest is slim to none. We cannot force these educators to attend sessions, and even if we did, what purpose would that serve beyond creating the attitude of “I have to be here, but I’m not going to use this so what does it matter?”

Are we simply stagnating ourselves when it comes to developing well-rounded students? What happens when we only have students using technology to complete assessments and follow along with guided scripts in desktop and web publishing books? Are we relying on these more than we should? Should we not instead be encouraging our students to be creative andinnovative? There are many options for ways to utilize technology and
incorporate the creation of new products and media out there. Everything from using one device alone to using a variety of devices to create one final product exist. Websites such as Graphite exist where users submit lessons that use more than one type of technology to accomplish a common goal.

Then again, what about ourselves? Technology is a great way for educators to connect and build a professional learning network. There are many educators out there who blog, create, and connect with one another to get advice, offer support and feedback, and to present new ideas. Teachers do not have to go it alone, or reinvent the wheel, but they do have to want to improve themselves as a lifelong learner. From Facebook groups to online communities to professional social media networks, there’s no end to what a teacher’s options are for networking. One simply has to have the drive and motivation to
accomplish this.

Set a goal for yourself this summer: I will build my professional learning network by ________________. Try to do at least one thing that will help you to improve yourself as an educator. Remember, you have to want to do it; don’t force yourself.

To get started, check out some of these ideas to build your
PLN:

-Reddit.com (specifically r/teachers and
r/teaching to begin)

-Yammer.com (if you are a WV educator, you have
an account already)

-Intel Teachers Engage

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