Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sticky Wikis & PLCs

When it comes to professional development for teachers, more presentations need to model the value of read/write web technologies including the importance of informal professional learning networks. Even if we don't have time to develop and deliver workshops on how to use blogs, wikis, podcasts, or steaming video, we can raise the profile of these tools by leveraging them in our presentations.

Even if board presenters elect to use traditional 'sage on the stage' models for sharing knowledge in training sessions, school districts can engage teachers in the conversation. Using the read/write tools at our disposal, leaders can provide pre and post-workshop information; can receive feedback from attendees; and can engage educators in ongoing dialogue about the big ideas shared in a given workshop.

My personal view is that every workshop should be supported by the use of a wiki. At the very least, the wiki can provide direct access to hyperlinks, handouts, and presentation materials. At best, the wiki will be open to contributions from visitors. and will include threaded discussions that extend the conversation. I contend that such workshop sites will be sticky, leading to collective sharing and community thinking on a wide range of topics. Informal networks of teachers may well spring from the regular use of wikis, and might further develop into lasting professional learning communities.

The spin-off benefit, beyond the support for current training initiatives, might include teachers who will begin to think about how they can leverage similar tools in their own classrooms. Knowing that it is so easy to contribute to a wiki, a teacher might write her first web page by using a wiki connect with parents, students and fellow teachers. Indeed, when curriculum leaders teach teachers through the use of read/write tools like these, they teach more than they realize!

Unsure about how wikis work? Visit the Teacher 2.0 Sticky Wiki episode , or check out the video below. In the interest of full disclosure: I like WetPaint for my wikis and I think Common Craft does a great job explaining things.


George Briggs said...

I am very interested in your comment that teacher workshops should be accompanied by wikis as I am in the process of preparing a workshop for May '08. I have started a blog to post resources and encourage on-going conversations after the workshop ( I have no experience with wikis and was wondering what advantages you see for the wiki over the blog?
George Briggs

Rodd Lucier said...

Hi George,

Your "Teach:Shift" blog has the potential for doing much of what I see wikis capable of doing. You can add links to related websites or online documents, and visitors can participate in a related discussion (much like we are doing here...). If you wanted to, you could even share authorship by providing your login information to others.

Wikis allow you to do the same things while allowing your visitors to have a more active role in the writing of the content. Wiki sites, tend to link to other wiki pages within the site and allow participants to edit previously posted content or to add new content/pages/comments. The host of the wiki site always has access to the entire history of edits, and can choose to 'repair' updates if necessary.

Both wikis and blogs are built using templates and can provide good looking websites, with minimal effort. Taking the time to learn to use either one of these tools as a mechanism for 'continuing the discussion' moves us towards more participatory professional development.

George said...

Hi Rodd,
Thanks for your comments. I will poke around on the wiki sites you recommend on your blog as the wiki appears to be more fluid in terms of online discussion.