Early in this course, I very quickly started to see the power of the blog. Not only was it evident that “emerging online communication tools have the potential to unleash a new level of creative thought in the classroom” (Dyck, 2004), it was clear that the blogosphere was an ever-evolving continuum of learning.
Weblogs (or blogs) are extraordinary vehicles for building collaboration and exploring professional development through non-traditional means. Blogs connect global communities of professionals together to support professional networking and is a means for educators to express (and find) new found knowledge, share instructional practices & research as well as interact within educational communities not bound by traditional boundaries.
Traditionally each year educators outline and plan their professional developments needs through school, district and provincial opportunities by attending seminars, workshops, conferences. Since blogs are created, posted and saved on the Internet, the world of professional development is at the convenience of the Internet user. I view professional development through blogs in two ways:
-Blogs as professional development
-Blogs for professional development
Alberta Education defines professional development as follows “Alberta's teachers are lifelong learners. Professional development and other learning opportunities equip them with the tools and knowledge they need to help students reach their full potential” (Alberta Education, 2008).
Kim Cofino is someone I have been following on Twitter for a couple months now and learned a great deal from her blogs, tweets, and involvement in emerging educational technologies and 21st century learning. She has created a wonderful diagram showing the models of professional development delivery as outlined on her blog posting titled Sustained Change: The Next Level of PD. Kim describes focusing on group PD as an essential next step to “building a community of learners in an institution” (Cofino, 2008) and a step that can be truly be enhanced through Web 2.0 tools. Doug Johnson seconds this notion on her blog by commenting that her writings resembles his knowledge on Professional Learning Communities established by educational guru Richard DuFour. Confino (2008) also reminds educators that focusing on group professional development allows people “to tap into a diverse group of experiences, knowledge and imagination”.
Blogs as Professional Development
The Fischbowl is a staff development blog for high school teachers exploring 21st century learning, constructivism and technology instruction. This award winning blog gives the teachers on staff a chance to explore professional development by exploring collaboration and sharing through a blog forum.
Blogs for Professional Development
K-12 Online Conference is a unique online conference organized by educators for educators since 2006. This blog provides a plethora of amazing resources and materials for educators interested in emerging technologies in education. Blog resources include links to wikis, video & audio podcasts, voicethreads, supporting links and blogs.
I would say without doubt that my participation in writing a blog, as well as my subscriptions in following blogs would be defined as blogs as and for professional development. One of the first assignments in this course was to sign up for a minimum of five blogs to enhance my own personal professional development. It was hard to know where to begin because the more I searched for blogs, the more the found. My professional development focus was going to revolve around Web. 2.0, technology and teacher-librarianship. I decided to choose a balance of bloggers from different areas within the field of education, some well-established bloggers in the field, and some with a smaller audience.
A Year of Reading
Also titled ‘Two teachers who read. A lot’. I was quite impressed with this blog as it is updated daily and has been online since 2006. Two teachers (who are also authors) dedicate their daily blogging to posting book reviews and poems the in the field of children’s literature. As a teacher-librarian, subscribing to this blog is having daily valuable professional development….free.
Beth’s Thoughts on Technology in the Classroom
Beth Knittle is a K-12 Technology Integration Specialist in a large school district. One of the statements that stood out in Beth’s ‘About’ section said “blogging has been an integral part of my growth as an educator. I tend to write about Learning and Educational Technology” (Knittle, 2007). For me, this statement fit perfectly into my blogging professional development commitment. In recent posts, Beth has committed herself to ‘Be a Better Blogger’ through a personal thirty-day challenge. This November focus is timely because my course is quickly coming to an end and I wonder if I will be challenged to not only sustain my blogging but continue to improve my blogging. What professional challenges will I encounter as I try to continue blogging?
Judy O’Connell’s well-established blog is journey through emerging technologies & Web 2.0 and how it impacts school libraries. The multifaceted focus between technology, Web. 2.0 tools and school libraries were all of the components I wrote up on my professional growth objectives submitted to my administrator in September. Over the past couple months this site has provided valuable insight into media literacy education, microblogging etiquette, and Twitter. I have become an avid Tweeter on Twitter because of Judy’s enthusiasm, and will continue to follow her blog and her tweets.
Kathy Schrock’s Kaffeeklatsch
Kathy was on my professional development radar years ago when I attended a one day session on best Internet sites for education – Kathy’s name came up several times during that presentation. This blog has provided valuable website links that I have used several times over and posted on my own blog (ie. Dumpr).
The New Digital History Education
Joel Ralph has introduced me to interesting and interactive Web 2.0 tools and links, my favourite being Wordle. Recently I used Wordle in a grade 3 technology project to formulate and create a word cloud from a vocabulary list students typed into Microsoft Word.
It was not a difficult decision to follow Will Richardson’s blog, after all his book Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts was on the required reading list for this course. Richardson writes for educator’s and bloggers alike, communicating all things Web 2.0. I have accessed an abundance of resources (current and archived) from wikis and RSS, to links and best practices.
My professional development over the past three months is immeasurable as the educational value of blogs is priceless. I have engaged in professional development at home and at school through the RSS subscription feeds in my Google Reader account. Richardson suggests that educators must become bloggers to fully understand the learning potential of blogs as instructional tools. Now that I have blogging experience, can I promote the power of blogs to my professional colleagues. I would begin introducing blogs by promoting following blogs relevant to their instructional and professional focuses. After that, the next step would be to conduct an introductory blogging PD session for colleagues ready to participate in the process. Many of the blogging applications are free and quite easy to set up. Using my blogging knowledge and experience thus far, Blogger would be my first choice. However, there are other applications worthy of mention:
As a blogger I will continue to reflect on my voice in the blogosphere, concentrating my postings on Web 2.0 and teacher-librarianship for and as professional development.
Alberta Education. (2008). Professional development. Retrieved from http://education.alberta.ca/teachers/role/pd.aspx
Cofino, K. (2008). Always learning. Retrieved from http://mscofino.edublogs.org/2008/11/09/sustaining-change-the-next-level-of-pd/
Dyck, B. (2004). Log on to a blog. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/voice/voice123.shtml
Knittle, B. (2008). Beth’s thoughts on technology in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.bethknittle.net/WP_Blog/?page_id=91