Yesterday was the opening day of year 3 of ArtsEducator2.0, the day when over 48 arts educators received their iPads. Our group was very excited to explore this digital device and I was thrilled to see the collaboration that began to happen in the afternoon.
In my past experience as an art teacher, professional development was always something that was directed by an “expert” that came in and did one shot workshops with large groups of teachers. There always seemed to be a great deal of resentment on the part of the teachers since they had no ownership in the process of the workshop or the ability to ask questions and explore the professional development topics in a hands-on way.
What was very exciting yesterday is that in our collaborative inquiry group, everyone started exploring the logistics with setting up iTunes accounts, learning about syncing their iPads to their netbooks (that they acquired last year) while others explored the process of researching apps. They asked everyone in the group questions as they explored. Some of the arts teachers had iPhones or iPods and applied their experiences to mentoring others on how iTunes worked to the iPad exploration. Others asked questions such as “can you download apps without a credit card?” and “How do I bring my iTunes songs over to my netbook if I have it on another computer?” “How does the iTunes Home Sharing feature work?” “How do you find the apps that you want to download?” “How do you download the apps to your iPad?”
In this kind of professional development what I am learning is that different teachers have different questions at different times. Allowing them the space to explore, ask questions when they need to, collaborate and mentor one another is a very effective and important realization in facilitating professional development experiences for teachers. Personal learning networks (or communities) seem to build a camaraderie that is very important for teachers in learning together. I am very excited to see where they are headed next and how they continue to explore and learn together.