Wow! It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is the last meeting of SI 643, and for me, the last class at UMSI. I enjoyed the course, and was glad to have learned a lot of new skills to aid in my professional development. One of these skills was creating webinars, and I was able to practice this last week with two classmates. We presented a webinar about easing the transition to college for students from rural areas. I think that it went well and our feedback was generally positive. I mentioned in my previous entry that there were issues with the Blackboard Collaborate software. My recommendation is that it is absolutely essential that you get to know the software, because you definitely do not to be working out the kinks when presenting. I think that we were also successful because we ran through our script a few times, making us sound more polished when it was time to hold the webinar.
The readings this week all dealt with professional development, among elementary school teachers, public librarians, and school media specialists. Joseph Semadeni discussed a professional development model called Fusion that is used in a school district in rural Wyoming. What I like about this professional development program is that it really takes the teacher’s schedule into account. It provides incentives for learning more effective teaching methods, and allows teachers to attend sessions during work hours thanks to a roaming substitute who can take over regular teaching duties. I think that it is a great idea to have professional development events take place during work hours. We all know what it is like to be overworked, and I am sure that goes double for teachers. Making professional development activities easily accessible is a win-win for both teachers and students. I am also glad that the Fusion system has teachers practice with each other the learning techniques they will be using with students.
Helene Blowers and Lori Reed discuss change in public libraries, particularly how technology plays a driving role in change. While it is ideal for librarians to keep up with technological innovations, it is not always the case that they can keep up. Blowers and Reed discuss strategies for classifying where librarians are in learning core competencies in technology. When the librarians’ level of knowledge is ascertained, it is then possible to know where to begin teaching. This system also makes a serious effort to include all librarians, make the training accessible, and ensure that the teaching is effective. What I particularly like about this program is how it has those who were able to attend the session teach the skills learned therein to those who could not attend.
Kristin Fontichiaro’s article discusses professional development through online modules for school media specialists and teachers. Fontichiaro discusses the challenge of instructing teachers how to use multiple emerging technologies in an environment of budget cuts. Her design builds on Blower’s and Reed’s strategy, but focuses on having the teachers involved in the activity play with Internet applications themselves, seeing how well they are able to teach themselves, and then having them discuss their experiences face-to-face. I think that this module is a good way to approach learning new technologies: repeating rote instructions is, in my experience, more difficult to recall than learning by doing. However, I also have experience with some patrons who are not particularly comfortable with emerging technologies and still view the successful operation of a computer as “a matter of learning the proper combination of keystrokes.” I would like to hear more about how to educate people who have this set of ideas and seem unable or unwilling to change their approach.