Saturday, September 8, 2007

Finding Time for Faculty Development

Time is listed as one of the major barriers to effective faculty development initiatives in several studies I have read. That is definitely true here! Our Technology Faculty Learning Community is having trouble finding a time when all of us can meet. Our 11:00 on Friday spot has been hijacked, so we set up 4:00 on Thursdays. Despite good intentions, only four of us were able to make the meeting this week. We have yet to meet with three who have expressed interest. Knowing that time would be a problem, we initially decided to also create a Technology FLC "course" in our Blackboard CMS. Our thought was that we would meet once or twice a month and then communicate online in between. It may be that the online discussion may form the bulk of our discussions. We did decide to hold the Thursday at 4:00 period open every week. Those who are able to meet can do so. I will facilitate the discussion. The face to face discussions will not necessarily be used to "present" information unless we decide to. Those who cannot meet on Thursdays have the opportunity to participate in the online discussions and take advantage of the resources, links, etc. located there. Time can also be a problem here as we must be committed to checking into to Blackboard on a regular basis. If we to truly develop into a learning community, then we must be willing to commit a piece of ourselves (time included) to this project.

We talked about needing a paradigm shift on Thursday. We have the opportunity to spearhead that shift in thinking (and doing). Several of us indicated that our students' technology literacy is often limited to gadgetry--mobile phones, IM, MP3 players. They use the web for socializing--FaceBook or MySpace--or shopping. However, there is so much more available to them (and to us, as teachers). Technology changes to quickly--it reminds me of the fashion world. Purple is in; pink is out. We are digital immigrants, those of us not born into today's technological world but at some later point in our lives became fascinated with it, adopted it, and use it. The importance in making this distinction, as Marc Prensky points out, is that like all immigrants, some learn better, quicker, more efficiently than others. We will always keep a foot in the past--our educational system was okay for us.... However, that educational system was not designed for today's digital natives. Technology has caused a "singularity," as Prensky notes, an event that changes things so fundamentally that there is no going back. As educators, we must embrace this change.

The first step in embracing that change was that we all agreed to explore the world of Web 2.0. As per the 2007 Horizon Report, user-created content and social networking are already established on many campuses and, therefore, will have the most immediate impact on teaching and learning. Check out Vicki Davis' classroom project entitled the Horizon Project based on a study of the Report. Here are two videos on the Horizon Report from her site. Our FLC decided to start with blogs--all of us are to create our own blog. We are then going to research how blogs are being used in higher education classrooms.

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