Monday, January 7, 2008

Open Professional Development

(a version of this is cross-posted at Tech Dossier)

Welcome back to what is commonly referred to as the second half of the school year, but in reality unevenly splits our academic year into two sections; regardless, I hope everyone had a restful holiday and is ready to begin the year anew, armed with resolutions that are bound to change the world, or at least your place in it.

One of the things that is high on my list this year is to begin transforming how we view professional development. PD's usual place in education is to sign up for a workshop, go to said workshop, learn, and then try as hard as we can to practice and apply those skills in the classroom. It's always an external process. What if if, instead of you going to the class, the class came to you?

Darren Draper, a Technology Integration Specialist from Salt Lake City, and Robin Ellis, an instructional technology specialist from Quakertown, PA, have decided to offer a second round of what is called Open PD. Every Wednesday night starting on January 23rd, from 6:30pm to 9:15pm, they will offer sessions live online using Skype and a screen-sharing program called Yugma (both free) to teach you about various social software applications and the possibilities for their use in the classroom.

The first cool thing about this? I dropped in for a bit of their last session, offered in the fall, not knowing what to expect; what I found was that not only was I connected to the class, but so were about 15 others from around the world and we all could talk and contribute, and especially ask questions when we weren't clear about something! It was like being in class without physically being there. At one point, I was out on my deck enjoying the sunset, and taking their class simultaneously.

The second cool thing? They are going to cover topics such as: wikis, Google applications,, flickr, blogging and social networking (facebook, ning, etc.) in a manner that is non-threatening and open, thus the name OpenPD.

If you have the time, this class is well worth your while regardless of your familiarity with the topics at hand. As Darren states in his post about the class, " the sum of our knowledge is what truly makes these new technologies so appealing."

Image Credit: "Learn" on amarola's photostream
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Sue Waters said...

I agree Robin and Darren's classes are totally not to be missed. They are excellent - shame I may have to miss some of them because I am expected to be at work :(.

Patrick Higgins said...


Work? Are we still doing that in the age of twitter and ubiquitous network plug in?

As for me, I too, won't be able to make it. Every time I try to get work done at home, my 3-year old want to use my computer to play games at

I am pitching this to my staff, however, like a mad man.

Sue Waters said...

Unfortunately one of us has to work as she has not yet worked out how to train people to farm fish totally virtually. There is still some need to teach them hands on skills so they actually learn to rear the fish. Sounds like you need another computer for your child :).

Darren Draper said...

Thank you, Patrick, for your kinds words! I agree that the last class was very exciting and I'm anxious to take another swing at it.

But if I would have known you were joining us from your deck, while gazing at beautiful sunsets, I would have docked your grade. :)

Thanks for making it such a successful effort, and here's to a great Round 2.


Patrick Higgins said...


I was hoping you wouldn't be able to pick up the sounds of the birds and the wind blowing.

We are setting some people up with Yugma accounts over the next couple of days, so I hope they can all make it on the 23rd.

Best of luck!

Darren Draper said...


Thanks for your help. Without you (and all of the participants, really - I forgot to thank Sue in my earlier comment - I'll never live that one down :) ) it wouldn't be as rewarding.

It really is a great experience!

Sue Waters said...

So Darren is that a prediction, a guess or a conversation regarding "never live it down". Important to know in case flying to the moon is involved :)

Brian said...

Yugma is a fine product, but TurboMeeting from RHUB is a worthy alternative. RHUB's appliance is free of monthly fees. And the TurboMeeting product offers polling, no download required for attendees, and 4x webcams to make meetings more interactive.

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