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Saved by Katie Day
on January 6, 2009 at 1:15:49 pm

Connecting East is an optional professional development initiative for our primary school teachers, inspired by the 23 Things movement, which originated in the library world. 


The first one, The Learning 2.0 program, was loosely based upon Stephen Abram's article, 43 Things I (or You) might want to do this year (Information Outlook - Feb 2006) and the website 43Things.  Since then, many more libraries have done their own versions, as Stephen Abrams noted earlier this year.  For example, here is Imperial College London Library's version and here is RMIT's version (they use a sports metaphor, calling it "21 Lunges").  The movement, also known as "Viral Professional Development", has since spread to other spheres, e.g., school professional development. 


We are not limiting ourselves to 23 literal tools or experiences -- instead we guarantee to expose our participants to AT LEAST 23 things (but likely more) and those subscription tools to which the college subscribes will definitely be covered.


Our pre-assessment was an online survey, asking which tools people were familiar with and to what degree (e.g., never heard of, have heard of, have used, and use regularly).  The results are available for viewing.  (Note: we offered the same survey to our counterparts at the other campus and their results are similarly revealing.)


The accompanying blog provides the order and pace of tools introduced over the 10 weeks of Term 2 (though teachers have until the end of Term 3 to complete the assignments in order to qualify for the prize-winning draw of two names to receive S$100 each in the form of wine or book vouchers or IT gadgets).


After introducing the program at the first staff meeting of Term 2, the program will run on its own in the background, though we're going to hold "Fruit Fridays" every week -- where we will be available in our Resource Center (ICT/Lib) every Friday morning before school for anyone who needs help (withfruit will be provided as a breakfast treat).


The goal is to make it both fun and practical... and anyone can sign up.  (We're offering it to our teaching assistants as well as our teachers.)


Our main concern is to increase awareness of what is available online to improve teachers' personal/professional productivity and to enhance their classes/teaching.  The way it's structured we can only tempt people to try new things -- hopefully stretching/scaffolding them to increase their ability to take more responsibility for their own Web n.0 learning. 


I hope you've found the survey results as interesting as we have.  You're right, basic computer skills are still required for many teachers.  We don't really have a hope of addressing them with this PD.  Anyway, if this survey was our pre-assessment, it will be interesting for us to give it to our staff again in June and see if we can see any increase in usage (not that that proves any improved learning -- on the part of teachers or students).  For those who take the plunge with us, at least they'll be able to say they've heard of or have used a few more things. 

Becoming an online learner is like becoming an avid reader.  It takes time, but once hooked, you keep going.  Similarly, Web 2.0 tools are like reading genres.  Sometimes all it takes is a strong recommendation or taste of a genre to have you expand your book options.  I belong to the "Magic Bullet" theory of reading -- that the right book at the right time can turn a non-reader into a lifelong reader. 

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