It’s nice to be back home again. For the past three days, I have been in London facilitating a workshop for Ontario educators with my friend Kelly. The OTF/FEO workshops have to be the greatest deal in professional development. For fifty bucks, you get the session, you’re fed and watered at every location and accommodation is covered. In this case, we stayed in dorm rooms on campus. There was a nice walk over the Thames River to get to the workshop location.
We were working with about 25 educators dealing with wikis and the incorporation of this and other Web 2.0 applications to ramp up the use of new technologies in the classroom. Our goal was to take folks from wherever they were to leaving with a learning space ready for their classrooms, rich with multimedia components and content customized for their reality. Talk about your differentiation!
The impressive thing about learning events like this is the diversity of the class. Since the OTF makes opportunities equally to the four federations, we had a nice collection of elementary and secondary, English and French teachers in the class. We had experience from folks who are technology teachers who use computes daily to motivated newcomers. They were checking in from Windsor, London, Toronto, Penetanguishene.
Home base for all of the learning was PBWorks. Our agenda for the event was very simple.
- Day 1 – Wiki Setup
- Day 2 – Exploring Web 2.0
- Day 3 – Making it Your Own
Those were pretty generous and liberal starting points. From working on sandbox pages on the class wiki, participants moved from wide open exploration to a pretty focussed and personalized experience. Over the journey, we used tools like Embedit.in, Google Documents and Forms, Jing, Pod-o-matic, YouTube, TeacherTube, Voki, VoiceThread, Bitstrips for Schools, Wordle, Tagxedo, and more. The goal was to find the best tool to address the design and engagement needed for each individual.
Even the technology was diverse!
We were located in a music lecture hall with desks literally screwed to the floor so it was up and down the raised levels to work with people using Windows XP, Windows 7, Macintosh, and even Macintosh on a netbook on their personal devices which pretty nicely attached to the UWO network. For the most part, we were working on the web and so the computer type played a small role (although there sure is a great deal of scrolling on a netbook).
At the end of each day, we all were tired from this intense learning. But, it was a good tired. I’m looking forward to hearing success stories as these professionals turn their efforts into the classrooms in a couple of weeks. Throughout the three days, conversations were focussed on going paperless and using these technologies as ways to engage students and inform parents.
You can’t ask for much more than that. Ontario Educators need to keep their eyes open for OTF/FEO flyers announcing further professional development events or keep an eye on the online PD calendar.
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