iPads and Professional Development Unboxed

To piggyback on Camille’s latest post – Friday was a fascinating experiment in emerging technology connected to inquiry based learning. Unboxing the iPads with no paper documentation to guide the setup and initial use of the tool was intentional – and a bit unorthodox.

To give a bit of historical documentation to our project to readers who haven’t been with us for the full three years of the Arts Educator 2.0 project – in Year 1, we served 24 art, music and theatre teachers – and we provided them with basic equipment:  headphones, a webcam, a Vado video recorder, and an iPod.  We focused on direct instruction of several Web 2.0 tools for collaboration:  Elluminate (for training webinars), Skype (for virtual meetings), and Wikispaces (for documentation of learning).  In Year 2, we moved into inquiry learning with 41 teachers, and created opportunities and supports for learning – moving to tools exploration pages on the wiki.  Each collaborative inquiry group (CIG) was shown the resources but allowed to pick and choose the tools and trainings which were most relevant to them.  In Year 3, we’ve broadened out again with 48 educators – not providing any direct training resources, but rather encouraging the CIGs to determine needs and locate all resources necessary for learning.

If Camille’s CIG (called the Red CIG) is any indication of our six inquiry groups, we can expect great things from this shift in andragogical methods.  It appears that our scaffolding of technology skills has produced confidence in learning, and enough expertise among our teachers for them to direct and support their individual and group learning goals.

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