Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In-Service: Six Months Later

Six months ago I conducted our staff in-service on Personal Learning Networks. It was a great experience, and I felt supported and affirmed.

So, what was the impact? Such days are notorious for fading quickly into the past. And its not like the staff was hungering for the information.

I can appreciatively reflect that the in-service has been sustained and supported by the school administration. They have called for all teachers to make building PLNs their "goal" for the school year, though I'm a bit unsure as to how this is being documented. But most importantly, the concept has remained part of the school's conversation at the top.

How this works "on the ground" is much more dubious. For example, when the "goals" for personal learning networks came up within my own department, not a single person could recollect what it personal learning network's were. I sat there stunned. It's probably a matter of jargon, but one can also surmise that I didn't exactly close the deal on social media with these folks.

Even more strange was the "shunning" I received from some staff members and in the days immediately after the in-service. This was particularly odd among some hallway neighbors. They simply did not talk to me about my day's presentation or even acknowledge it had happened. I'm pretty sure this had much more to do with their discomfort with the general topic of technology, rather than any particular insult I had delievered.

This is not to say that I have been discouraged by the lack of momentum created by my presentations. At the departmental level many new Nings that were created directly as the result of my presentation. Several teachers have also engaged their classes in Nings or wikis. Recently, many (including three administrators!) answered my call for M-Hub, which is based on the concept of PLNs. Furthermore, administration has asked me to continue promoting digital education in a formal way as part of my prep. I'm eager to do so.

I think it will take something big like M-Hub or to nudge the school culture. So I am hopeful that we can build upon the PLN foundation laid at the in-service. Only time will tell if it's been built on sand. Teachers are so incredibly conservative in their expectation and habits-- But that is a subject for a coming blog post.

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Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Luc_Legay

2 comments:

Gary said...

"[The school administrators] have called for all teachers to make building PLNs their 'goal' for the school year ..."

Is there any philosophical objection to or concern with other grown-ups determining what a teacher's goal for the year should be?

Thanks for another thoughtful post.

PLN's are not a bad idea. In fact, they are a good idea. The same is true of deodorant.

But when someone comes up and says, "You need this," it changes the message.

Larry Baker said...

Gary, your timing was impeccable on this topic. I just returned from a meeting where there was terrific blow back on just this matter.

However, the vehement objections were coming from folks who vehemently object to the notion they might need to change in any way to help their students learn to leverage the technologies right at their fingertips. (We're a wireless 1:1 school).

This is not to their credit (in fact to play off your deodorant metaphor, it sinks), but the mandated goal has only caused theme to dig in deeper.

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