Seven middle school teachers 'met' last night via a skype conference call to kick off our "Web 2.0 Study" group. Our group's focus is to explore the world of web2.0 by actually modeling and using these tools to learn more about them. It clearly was a different way for us to conduct a professional development experience - I was certainly new to this medium and most everyone else was as well. Over the course of the meeting we shared individual goals, we started thinking about a group project that we could present at the end of the year, we watched and reflected on a few videos posted on our ning community, we discussed potential books to read as a group, and we talked about our "homework" assignment for the next meeting (still not sure if the next meeting will be f2f or skype). I wish we would've taken five minutes to list out all of the questions that people had as well - however, the great thing about our approach to this study group is that we can still have participants list out their questions via our ning community at their leisure.
I see this model of synchronous professional development via skype as one that has some potential for a variety of reasons. First off, the model lent itself quite well to the wide range of learning styles, learner background knowledge sets, and levels of interest present. We had some members of the conference who were very new to some of these tools while others have been using them quite a bit. Everyone was able to pick and choose what they wanted to do during the experience. For example, a few people who already viewed the "Did You Know" video were able to surf about ning while others were watching the movie.
The shared google doc presentation was a nice way to guide our meeting. Modeling the use of this tool gave participants some background with this application and gave them the opportunity to think of creative ways to apply the tool in their classroom with students.
I think the meeting raised many questions with everyone, which to me is great. How will we maintain all of our user names/passwords for all of these accounts? Will this involve extra work? What are the differences/similarities of these tools and what are the appropriate times to use each? I hope everyone is able to answer their own personal questions that they may have over the course of our experience together.
Here are some of the methods and tools we used to guide our skype conference:
-We used a google presentation to guide the first meeting
-Skype for voice obviously...we used the texting tool in skype for passing out links and resources
-Our ning community was a great tool for the meeting. I was able to upload a bunch of resources ahead of time for people to sift through and comment on over the course of the meeting.
-A shared NetVibes tab was used to pass aggregate blogs of interest. The link to the NetVibes tab is posted at our ning community.
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