Holt Think: Ed, Creativity, Tech, Administration


Posts tagged with "Professional Development"

Apr 8

You Don’t Have to be Here to Present Here. Five Ways to Present Virtually

I just put out a Call for Presentation for a conference that will take place in El Paso in September 2014. This year for the first time, I am going to actively encourage that my out of town professional learning network members try to attend and present virtually.

I like the idea of having virtual presentations taking place at the same time that face to face presentations are happening. But where do you start? How do you present if your audience might be1000 miles away? Here is a short list of five possible ways to present in a virtual environment:

Skype/ Facetime:

Probably the first thing that most people think of when they get the idea that they could present virtually is to use Skype. Skype is great for allowing one to one presentations. You need to have a Skype premium account to do any type of document sharing.

There are simple ways to overcome the Skype for free limitations: Use Today’s Meet for the backchannel chat that both sides can access and if your conference does not have a place where files are stored online, set up a public Dropbox where they can access all of your materials.

If you have access to Apple equipment, you might consider FaceTime which I think has superior video and audio than Skype. Sadly, neither one of these can easily show your presentation if you have a Powerpoint or Keynote.


Webinars allow you to not only present virtually and live, but they also, in most cases, allow for slides, chats, video and more. We use Adobe Connect for a lot of our webinars and it is perfectly serviceable. (There are a lot of webinar packages available. You can host your own, or you can ask the conference organizers if they have access. Either way, webinar is a nice way to present virtually.

Most webinar software allows for recording, another feature that is great for conferences, especially if someone could not make it to your session. AND most allow you to embed handouts right in the webinar.

Prerecorded Video:

The first time I saw this was when David Warlick created a prerecorded Keynote address for the K12 Online Conference back in 2006.

It was not so much the content that he spoke, but how he did it that got my attention. He took his webcam with him all over the place and recorded his keynote. That showed me the power of being able to present from anywhere and at anytime. (I think back then he had to have a wired mic and his laptop in order to make the movie.)

Since then, there have been tons of tools created such as iMovie and lots of devices such as iPads and iPhones that really allow you to create a “keynote on the go.” You can record when the spirit moves you. Put it all together into a movie and send it off!

There are also lots of examples of how to make a prerecorded presentation as well. TED TALKS are probably the gold standard, but all you have to do is pretty much look at any pre-recorded keynote from the K12 Online days to get a good idea of how to do this.

Both Keynote and Powerpoint allow you to pre-record your presentation straight from the slideshows which is another option, especially of you have a slide-heavy presentation.

Video Conference:

If you are lucky enough to have access to high end video conference equipment, by all means use that! You have to make sure that the other end has the equipment as well, but a good VC set up can handle HD cameras, screen casts of your presentations, and usually have excellent audio as well. A good VC set up can make the audience think you are actually in the room, and the advantage is that you can actually interact almost face to face with your audience.

Google Hangouts

Perhaps the newest of the bunch is Google Hangouts. Google hangouts allows you to connect up to 10 connections at one time (if you are presenting this would make an awesome panel discussion!). I have done a couple of hangouts and they work pretty much as advertised.

Grab some friends and do a panel at a conference using hangouts.

A word of advice however: If you have handouts, you still have the same problem that you had with Skype and FaceTime. You will need to make them available via Dropbox of some other web site.

There you have it! If you want to present, you don’t actually HAVE to be there to do so! Consider presenting virtually. Ask the conference organizers if they would allow you to do so. If they are an ed tech conference, chances are they will. (And actually, pretty much any conference with a decent wifi set up should be able to handle a virtual presentation.

Why not start by trying it out at miniCAST 2014? You can present in El Paso Texas from your dining room in your pajamas and no one will be the wiser!

Here is the Call for Presenters:
Apr 6
Call for Presentations is now open.

Call for Presentations is now open.

Every Data Point Tells a Story: Making Mental Post It Notes

Think about the last time you listened to a presentation that had a lot of statistics in it. For instance, student test data. Now think about how much of that data you actually remember.

Chances are, you don’t remember too much. You may have remembered the gist of the presentation, you may have remembered the setting, but chances are the actual data is lost to your memory.

Now think about the last time you heard someone tell you a story as part of a presentation. A keynote perhaps, telling about how they struggled through poverty as a child, or overcame adversity, or a funny story that made you laugh.

Chances are here that you actually remember the presentation with the story better than you remembered the presentation with the statistics.

Take a moment to watch “Persuasion and the Power of Story” by Jennifer Aaker.

Aaker, a professor of Marketing at Stanford has some interesting things to say there don’t you think? One of my take aways is that story trumps data when trying to get people to understand a topic.

Story trumps data.

I thought about that when I thought about how schools present information to their parents and teachers. Often, they present just the raw statistics: Our school had this many pass the test. This many were exemplary, this many failed.

Indeed, in Texas, the yearly school reports that the state makes about each campus is called a “report card.” Statistics fill the report card. It is not very memorable and I suspect you would be hard pressed to find a parent that even can remember getting one, even though they go out to every parent in the state.

Harldy ever is there a story attached to that data. Yet, Aaker would tell us that without story, the data gets lost in the background noise.

Stories need to be woven into the data in order for the audience to become connected to it. “When data and stories are used together, they resonate with audiences on both an intellectual and emotional level.”

The power of the story is that the audience can personalize the story to themselves. (This has to do more with how the brain is wired than how the heart is wired, but suffice to say that without story, the audience remains detached from the data.)

So how can we present data in such a way that it might be meaningful using story?

Can stories be added to data?

I once heard about a school that had a “War Room” where all of the student data was posted on the wall. Teachers and administrators would use the “war Room” as a planning place to address student needs based on al of the posted data. Where the students were, where they need to go. The data was just that: points of information on charts and tables hung up on walls. Teachers would come in, look at the charts, and then leave.

The administration was wondering how to make the data more meaningful. How could we connect the numbers to the teachers in such a way that they would have an emotional attachment to the data? That is where story came in.

The principal decided that the teachers needed to understand that the data was more than just points on a graph. She exchanged the points of data with the actual student pictures.

Teachers began to see the STORY of the students instead of just the points when the picture of the student was placed with the data.

All of a sudden, the story and the data came together. Teachers began talking about the STORY of the student once the picture was , not just talking about the excuses of why the student failed or passed. The power of the story took over once the story, the students that they knew, replaced the nameless faceless points on a graph.

The power of storytelling is evident even in business. Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind wrote ” Story represents a pathway to understanding that doesn’t run through the left side of the brain.” In other words, the creative emotional portion of the brain makes a connection with a story.

In their book “Made To Stick" the Heath brothers spend a considerable amount of time speaking about using stories in order to make information "Sticky." They use the story of Subway’s Jared, a man who lost over 200 pounds on a diet of Subway sandwiches. His story was much more real, had much more emotion, much more "sticky" than the original marketing that Subway used where they just said they had 6 sandwiches with 7 grams or less of fat (6 under 7).

Brain Rules,” author John Medina says “When the brain detects an emotionally charged event, the Amygdala releases dopamine into the system. Because dopamine greatly aids memory and information processing, you could say it creates a Post-It note that reads, ‘Remember this.’

Storytelling is the post-it note for the brain. If you want something to stick, you need to add a story to it.

A good administrator will not only just present the date to their faculty, but also create the story that goes with them. Why is it important the Joe pass the test? What happens if he doesn’t? How does that affect him, his family, his future? What story does Joe have that we can help him with?

Stories are of course not the only way to present information, but they are a powerful tool, especially if you are trying to provide information that you want retained over a long time.

How Can You Quantify the Connections

I have had a long running discussion with one of my colleagues about out of town conferences. He thinks that they are basically a waste of money; anything you can get a conference you can find on the internet. The presentations, the exhibits, it is all there. You just have to know where to look.

I argue back that the connections at conferences are the most important things that happen there, and that you cannot quantify that type of learning.

So that brings me to the question: If someone asked you to place a value on what you do and learn at a conference, how would you respond?

How do you quantify the networking that you do at a conference?

How do you quantify networking with people in person versus online?

Is face to face still important in this age of being a connected educator?

How do you put a Return on Investment value on an idea you got while listening to a keynoter speak?

How can you create a data chart of the ideas generated in the hotel lobby or in the elevator while casually speaking to someone that you did not know 5 minutes before?

In this education world of Data Driven decision making, where much of our work is based on the results of what we do, how can we justify out of town education conferences?

If someone asked you “Was it worn the money we spent?” how could you answer?

Five Guidelines for Choosing Online Professional Development

School districts are in a pickle: They know that the only way to create great teachers and thus great classroom experiences for students, is to provide exceptional professional development. The trouble is, with cutbacks in funding, the traditional model of professional development is slowly starting to fade away. Many districts have moved towards a Professional Learning Community model, where teachers are supposed to work collaboratively with each other to dissect student data and then sort of design instruction based on the needs of the students.

The trouble with that model is that for many teachers, the PLC experience has devolved into a data mining exercise where hours and hours are spent looking at reams of student data and in many cases, trying to figure out how to beat the test, not teach the students. Another thing I have seen happen with PLC’s is since they focus so much on students (not a bad thing I agree) they tend to ignore the needs of teachers. Because most PLCs are a small to medium sized group of individuals, their experiences are mostly limited to themselves and their own techniques. There is not much growth once that well of ideas has run dry, where do teachers turn to improve themselves as educators?

Of course, the immediate answer is “Why not just use the internet?” While the internet is a great source of information, you know there’s a lot of bad information out there, too much information out there and it’s really not vetted too well. Unfortunately, educators can be much like their students, searching Google and using the first pages as the guideline for results. So here’s some guidelines that you might consider when allowing your faculty to use online resources for their own professional development purposes.

So how do you know that a free professional development opportunity is a good professional development opportunity?
I think that if you have some type of lens to look through before you choose, then you have a better chance of choosing wisely.

Guideline 1: Close the Firehose: Don’t allow everything
There are tons of information out there that teachers can use for professional development. The question is what’s good and what’s bad? What’s been vetted and what hasn’t been bad? If it’s paid for isn’t good, if it’s free is it bad, where can we find it?

First you need to not allow all resources to be used everywhere. The analogy of course is it’s like drinking from a firehose. You can’t possibly know what your faculty is doing if you just let them choose from anywhere. There simply is too much information set up. So what you need to do is you need to start creating a menu of items from which they can choose from: It can be a large menu, it can be a small menu but the idea is that the be able to choose on their own from vet it sources that you yourself have chosen from.
There are lots of resources that are available out there from iTunes U to ConneXions from Rice University, to free material from professional organizations. A word of caution: Sometimes free is not free. Some organizations will provide what is known as a “freemium model” where there is just enough material to get you hooked, and then charge for the real meat and potatoes of the course. Beware, and make sure that free really does mean free.

Here is a way to start looking:
Choose from entities that have a track record for success. For instance, iTunes U has online courses from institutions of higher learning from all over the world. If a district is looking for improving reading strategies for instance, a simple search of iTunes U returns results from such diverse groups as the Virginia and Florida Departments of Education, to Cambridge University. One owed find it hard to imagine a school saying that a course on Reading Strategies from say, an Ivy League school is “not good enough” for their teachers.

Guideline 2: Choose a Theme
If the school needs help with reading strategies, then the theme for that year should be reading strategies. Start where you need help the most. If you limit the topics, you can control the types of sessions that your teachers are looking for online.

The themes can be very broad, like “21st Century Skills” or they can be very narrow as well, like “iPads in the Reading Classroom.”

The value of a theme is that all teachers have something in common when they begin to reflect on learning, or can share sessions that they might find online but do not wish to take themselves. Even if a particular session does not appeal to one teacher, it might to another.

In the past, I have seen themes that included PD that was based on university courses, with teachers that need the most basic PD starting at the “freshman” level, and the more advanced teachers taking “upper level” courses.

You can usually tell the level of the training simply by giving a cursory glance. In iTunes U for instance, many of the courses come with syllabi. Take a look at the syllabi and see if it meets the needs of your PD, or your campus’.

Guideline 3: Let the PLN decide on the free resources
Study after study shows that professional development works best when the people share collective responsibility to the learning. When teachers choose the direction and the school administration goes along, the development becomes more meaningful. Connecting the PD to the classroom is meaningful. Disconnected one-shot trainings are not.

Many heads are better than one, and that goes for FINDING PD resources as well.

Self directed works in group settings as well. By letting the group decide, then you allowing them to have ownership of the training. The we is better than the me, and the group can decide on the “big picture” of what needs to be trained and the individual can decide on the specific training.

This image is designed to show haw a connected student works, but it holds up if you apply it to professional development:

There are still MANY teachers that simply are not connected. Perhaps becoming a connected educator should be mandatory BEFORE any kind of district professional development initiative begins.

Guideline #4: Reflection is Mandatory for any PD
Everyone taking online professional development should be required to compete some type of reflection activity, be it by writing a blog, some type of group reflection, or completing some kind of work related activity related to the PD.

How many times have you been in a PD session, and left thinking that the information was valuable and usable, then forgot all about it within a week? By reflecting on the PD. one not only thinks more deeply about the work, but also can create an archive that thy can revisit. ,

I prefer blogging myself, or some other type of web based reflection because that allows for others to see and also to comment on the work.

Honestly, how many of you can readily remember the Professional development you had two years ago? A year ago? At the beginning of this year? Chances are, none of those required you to reflect o the learning.

Guideline #5: Be open to new tools
What is that old saying? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If you do the same KIND of professional development and are getting the same results, then it is time to change.

And change does not have to be expensive or difficult. There are a wide variety of free tools, courses, webinars, books readily available. Districts must allow their professionals to choose for themselves this “just in time” training.

Perhaps to make the idea more palatable to districts, they can provide a menu of options that they will allow each year, created in consultation with teachers and campus administrators.

Here is a video I created on 10 different professional development tools:

Ten places to get self directed professional development.

I have yet to have a student tell me they can’t use TECHNOLOGY in class because they haven’t had professional development on it.

I have yet to have a student tell me they can’t use TECHNOLOGY in class because they haven’t had professional development on it.

Mar 1

Quick Links to Some #TCEA14 Videos

For your viewing pleasure:
Here are some videos I created at TCEA.

TECSIG Luncheon: http://holtthink.tumblr.com/post/77316930555

Design Thinking Workshop http://holtthink.tumblr.com/post/77492886922/

There Now Video Coaching System: http://holtthink.tumblr.com/post/78174795373

Student Lego Robotics Competition: http://holtthink.tumblr.com/post/78174619188

Birdbrain Robotics: http://holtthink.tumblr.com/post/78174234952/

Sibme video collaboration tools: http://holtthink.tumblr.com/post/78173661616

K12 Dynamics Digital District Dashboard: http://holtthink.tumblr.com/post/78151856793

Vex Robotics http://holtthink.tumblr.com/post/78150612099

There Now video coaching system as seem at TCEA 2014 in Austin Texas.

Professional Development (Topics on EdSurge)

Teacher professional development tools don’t fit neatly into well-defined buckets like those for digital curriculum. There’s no scope and sequence for progressing through the teaching practice. There are a host of views on what “PD” means. And views on how teachers “plug into” professional development vary widely. What’s clear: any thoughtful definition of professional development demands careful consideration of the classroom, school, and district context.

Every Frikkin' Ed Conference between now and July 2014

Stephen Downes references this amazing list (in Word Format) of conferences. And even if you cannot it this year, it is a nice reference for future years. Warning: Global list not limited to the US.

From the site:

Clayton R. Wright once again compiles his great list of conferences, this time for January-June 2014. He adds in an email: “The 30th version of the list has information for 1,100+ conferences/workshops. Despite sending out 310 e-mails (yes, sometimes I do keep track of stuff like that) to obtain basic information not available on websites, I was unable to obtain information for 116 events listed previously. As many of these events occur in June, I may be able to find the missing information for the next list. It is normal for me not to find information for 8% to 14% of conferences listed on a previous list - sometimes conference organizers do not make date and location decisions well in advance so that potential participants can plan to attend; other times, the events are not held again.” MS-Word document.

Click on title to go to article.

Edsurge.com Professional Development Resources

Nice set of resources on Professional Development. I think we need to collect all of the PD resources and post them in a single place somewhere. Are you listening Learning Forward?—TBH

From the article:
In short: good professional development should embody the learning environment for a particular school or classroom. Heavy on inquiry-based learning? Seek out PD opportunities that are as open-ended as the assignments you give to students. Transitioning to more data-driven instruction? Then make sure you have a set of metrics to measure your own development against.

Undergoing professional development experiences which model the instruction in your classroom and school provides an informal feedback loop on how to improve your own instruction. That kind of alignment means you’re going to learn something about how that pedagogy is received by your students—even if the specific content isn’t exactly what you were hoping to get.

More on Professional Development