Sarah Elliott’s Blog

Travel with me on my voyage of learning and discovery…

Web 2.0 Staff Development

Posted by sarahelliott on March 9, 2010

Following our Professional Development day on Student Centred Learning in the 21st century, our staff decided to take up the issue of web2.0 tools for learning. Every fortnight for a couple of months, a different staff member took responsibility for presenting a web 2.0 tool that they had used in the classroom with a group of students. They explained the purpose behind using the tool and also gave a reflective evaluation on its success.

The idea was that other members of staff would follow this up and try some of these tools out and then feedback some time later to demonstrate how they had learned from the first presentation and how this had positively impacted their own teaching practices whilst offering further examples of what can be done with web 2.0 tools.

This project started well, but has fizzled out a little. Writing on this blog about it now, reminds me that we need to get this going again. However, I am very aware that although we may not have been sharing success stories as a whole team, teachers are definitely making a real effort to put these learning technologies into practice.

For example, our Spanish teacher followed up on the Voki presentation and used it with one of her classes. They were able to create avatars that spoke in Spanish. The teacher reported that the class really enjoyed the activity and were highly motivated by the use of Web 2.0 on this occasion.

One Primary class teacher decided to use Wordle to get her students thinking about the IB Learner Profile. Each member of the class created a list of the attributes that they thought best described every other member of the class. Then, for every student, a tally for each attribute was taken and fed into wordle, the result was a wordle that represented ever student’s character in terms of the Learner Profile, as voted for by their peers.

Whilst great progress is being made in this area, it has not been an altogether positive and successful experience. There are certainly those who are very resistant to these changes in teaching and learning. And, it is not necessarily those who are the oldest members of staff. In Norway, there is a general attitude that everyone should be the same and be equal. Therefore, in some Norwegian schools this idea has resulted in the lack of differentiation and student-centred, personalised learning. Whilst our school is very different to the average Norwegian state school, some members of staff still seem to hold onto this dated perspective. They are hesitant to make changes – perhaps they are simply scared of doing something that they are unsure of or afraid to try something new. But, in the spirit of the IB, we have to be risk-takers. We have to challenge ourselves, if not, how are we going to challenge our students?

I am planning to propose that our Principal determines a deadline in a couple of months time and by that time every member of staff should have tried to put into place at least 1 web 2.0 tool with at least 1 class. Then, we can spend a few staff sessions following this up and getting every single member of staff to present what they have done to the rest of the staff body. Maybe this is demanding too much, maybe it’s exerting too much pressure. But, I think it is positive pressure, pressure to bring about changes, bring about something good that will improve teaching and learning – which should be at the very heart of what we do as professionals.

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