How to run your first EdTech PD session and live

There are a few things that you can do to encourage staff to use technology in classrooms – without scaring them or isolating yourself. This is a simple way to engage newcomers with EdTech. Personally I don’t do the ‘heres the massive hyper-world you are not in‘ presentation. So if you are thinking about running your first PD for staff – here’s a plan that will see you walk away smiling, not frustrated.

Rule #1. No powerpoint! – that creates an immediate passive mode in your audience. Most get too comfy when they see it and have tuned out before you’ve finished fiddling with the flash drive. Use a pen and a wipe-board or even better – paper.

Draw a graph showing a learning-curve. No pretending — learning means work. Time along the bottom, and effort up the side. As time passes, the initial steep learning curve must shallow off!!

Draw three points along that nasty curve that represent one hour, two hour and the three hour point. At each of these points you have to explain a few things — being prepared, but looking off-the cuff is the trick to selling your ideas. You have to present in a meaningful, conversational way – by predicting and anticipating their major kick-backs – before your session. Create ways for them to take ownership of the conversation, applying what you are saying to their teaching strategy and belief. BUT be cunning — plan triggers and prompts.

10 mins of talking around the curve – is better than a term of powerpoint hell — ask a student.

Planning your session
Stick to talking about the first hour. Make the session no more than an hour, and plan to spend only half of that talking. So 30 mins free-play – doing something.

Choosing a tool to change a culture
Choose something simple. No PLNs or connected this and that. Something like Evernote. The aim is to get them to swap some of their addiction to Word (and they say WoW is addictive).

Prepare you first half hour – Evaluation 1-2-3
Sit down and draw your graph, open up Evernote and make some notes about it – think like a yeah-but.

1. What will they have had to learn in that first hour?
2. What is ONE new concept/idea that is encountered? (Check the ATTRIBUTES menu for ideas)
3. What are they currently doing that they could swap for this?

The aim of the exercise is to allow a teacher to encounter a new idea and try it — and everyone MUST WIN EASILY. People often try to do way to much — forgetting that teachers are often not even able to conceptualise what you’re banging on about for 90% of the time.

Teachers are often pretty smart – able to predict things if they see enough of the picture. It’s the small things that matter – how they feel, what they think – all this talk about jumping into tech-head world, forming personal learning networks is alien to many teachers – who genuinely believe that as a cog in the machine – they are doing perfectly fine — and they are, the ICT demands are hardly challenge-making. Don’t assume that US-centric ‘PD’ approaches work in Australia – they don’t. There is little in common between the two systems – and vast cultural differences that make Australian teachers a completely different proposition in workshops. Something I’ve learned over the last year or so. So let me save you the hassle of learning the hard way.

Facilitate (dont teach) the second half hour – Reflection 1-2-3

Use the technology NOW. If they don’t make something personal and have an immediate win IN THE SESSION – they are highly likely to CHURN. It is also a great way of getting miserable-faced arms folded types to adjust their posture and stop staring into space.

Get them to use EVERNOTE to do these things; uncover them one by one – don’t go explaining the interface – ask prompting questions instead.

1. What is going to be the outcome of using this in MY work (what can I do with it)
2. What application can I see this being useful to MY STUDENTS (how will it make learning better)
3. How can I use this in assessment? (If I can’t assess it — I’m just sticking a clock on a toaster — how do I know it will be BETTER)

Move right away from any comparison or judgment around what they currently do — that leads to spiky-conversations. Teachers are great ideological debaters.

Repeat the process for Hour 2 and Hour 3 – each time YOU do it, you will be role-playing your learner to some extent. It keeps it simple and targeted, avoiding mischief-making conversations around personal belief and so on. I find that Hour 2 is a good time to introduce the digital-taxonomy and align that with what they just learned and decided upon and in the third hour, get them to pull apart a lesson and renew it. You’ll know if you get it right – you will still have learners in your third session – get it wrong and you’ll they will have churned.

The wording, patter and resources will be different for each audience — so for goodness sake don’t use these headings! – Oh and one last thing. Don’t present with use ANY tool that you want them to hand-in – such as Word, Powerpoint, Google Search etc.,  so many Power Points about not using Power Point out there … dizzy-thoughts around that.

You can use this in just about any context, from tabbed browsers to virtual worlds — but stick to the plan … stay icy. Don’t rely on the ‘heavy’ message. EdTech in Australia — despite the Ruddy Laptop Revolution is voluntary on the part of teachers. Teachers will join your movement if you lead them to better practice – they will avoid you if you get it wrong — and second chances are few and far between.


7 thoughts on “How to run your first EdTech PD session and live

  1. Enjoyed it…certainly gets me looking forward (considering I’am a student)…its so true- talking about a graph is more attention grabbing than showing a PP. Few of the questions that you mention are good reflecting points upon the implementation of various actions…brilliant read for all the teacher around. I also like the evernote programm might just go around exploring…sounds fun🙂

    • you should put a proposal in for some EdTech Conference mate – I’ll kick you a link or two. Cracks me up how much more you know about teaching and learning than many teachers.🙂 thanks!

  2. I have consciously stopped preparing PowerPoints for conferences, workshops and stuff at work recently and just get the participants online ASAP. Some people feel out of their depth for a bit but it forces them to click around and explore. They know the videos are linked at my blog if they want to watch an exlanation. Doing is the key and I try to circulate, encourage and be relentlessly positive with a good dose of empathy for their plight.

  3. Thanks for the post. Keeping things simple and grounded in what works for teachers is a useful reminder when the whole complicated world of networked affordances, social learning, personal learning, connectivism, blah, blah are nudging the back of the brain.

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