Connected SMART Teachers
As part of ECI831 and keeping in line with my current professional focus, I wanted to put together a wiki as part of my final project that provided teachers with resource information on SMART interactive technology. As part of this resource I wanted to include information on how teachers utilizing this technology can connect with other educators and leaders in this area to build upon their existing professional network. This wiki will be promoted through my professional development sessions within the province as a springboard for collaboration and networking in this area.
Would love some feed back! Please check out my Sask SMART Teachers wiki and let me know what you think!
The idea for this project began almost as soon as I begin my new educational role. I had always wanted to put my PD resources in one location that was easy to access and provided educators with an opportunity to get in touch with me. I had previously explored the use of wiki’s when accessing them during various PD sessions I had personally attended. However, time was always a factor and it aways seemed to be placed on the back-burner.
It wasn’t until recently and this class, that I began to explore the importance of creating an on-line community. I began to recognize the value in educators being able to network with others outside of the traditional “staff room”. The more teachers I spoke with through my own professional travels, the more I realized that currently there were very few ways to connect with other teachers in our province using SMART. Thus, I saw this as an opportunity to finally tie in my goal of creating a resource area with the added benefit of trying to start to build an on-line SMART community in Sask.
I began the process of creating this wiki by looking at some pre-existing resource sites. Some were random sites I had come across, while others were posted by members of my Twitter community.
A few of my exemplars:
Elementary Teachers Leading and Learning (provided by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach)
Educational Wiki’s – a variety of wiki’s with educational purposes
The Connected Classroom – A great wiki focusing on how to get started
Social Networking for Teachers – Wiki focussed on supporting teachers in the areas of social networking
There were also some great articles and materials to support my project goals:
I also contacted SMART’s lead educational consultants for support and suggestions. There information, though valuable was not necessarily geared towards our Saskatchewan market.
I also needed to consider providing information such as resources in a logical way with clear navigation. This would hopefully encourage teachers to visit the site thanks to ease of use and find value in the given materials.
I also needed to promote a collaborative process within the wiki. Offering the opportunity for teachers to mould and direct the flow of discussion.
After time to reflect on the various considerations and information I had gathered I began to put together the resource wiki. Once the shell was in place I put it out to several colleagues and of course my Twitter PLN to offer up some suggestions. I received some wonderful feedback but also some relevant questions were posed. One in particular focussed on how I would promote the collaboration portion of the site. To be honest, this is still a tough question to answer. Many of the exemplar wikis I looked at seemed to suffer the same problem. Teachers were not necessarily using the discussion board provided. Encouraging teachers to respond, connect and discuss in a new environment will certainly pose its challenges. I think it will be important as the moderator for the site to use this wiki during my PD sessions, direct teachers to collaborate with me on there and hopefully facilitate this are with questions to get teachers thinking. I think the answer to this may only come over a period of time and once it has fully reached the target audience.
For the Future
I am anticipating launching this site as part of my PD offerings in January. I’d like to include it with my quarterly newsletter and offer it as a resource to the school divisions I am currently working with. Based on user feedback, there may be modifications needed or a new mode of networking teachers required. An investigation into the use of Facebook groups may also be necessary as it seems to be a bit more familiar and already has an existing user base within our province.
I look forward to monitoring the sites usage and gathering user feedback from various PD sessions in the future.