Colin's Sandbox

Goal Eight: Professionalism

Professionalism to me initially invokes images of office workers in business attire walking in step, but at a deeper level it involves quite a bit more than just crisp fashions and shiny shoes: our professionalism is seen by others in our competencies, how we face challenges, seeking to stay current in our field, and our ability to work respectfully as members of a team.

Open Learning: Developing and Leveraging the Personal Learning Network

Since much of my coursework done as a master’s student at the University of Alaska Southeast has been performed out in the open using social networks (e.g. Twitter, YouTube, and Google Plus) as well as blogging on publicly accessible sites, others can readily see the ways in which I have worked with others both inside and outside the program.  As a result of interactions through these social networks I have continuously made new contacts in a wide variety of roles in the educational world that greatly expands an audience with which to test ideas, take informal polls, ask for assistance, and provide support. This is the primary way in which I pick up the buzz surrounding new technology, get a feel for the current issues in schools and universities, and understand what is getting the spotlight on a national and state level.

I am a strong proponent of this style of learning for the simple fact that this process of engaging with others out in the open encourages a bit more “spit and polish” on writings. The infinitely large fish tank that we swim in fosters a spirit of humility: the realization that for any one of the individual professional skills that I can list as being at least proficient in if not highly skilled, I can name someone who can do the job better, cheaper, or faster (pick 2). As I see it, the spirit inherent in this open learning environment is to develop your interests, drawing from and comparing to a world of examples. This emphasizes the ability to communicate with any number of others in the present, or with the durable nature of posts made online, to a wide audience stretching far into the future.

This open learning paradigm for me reached its full potential as part of the spring 2014 Educational Technology Leadership course where our class worked at-distance with two of Vicki Davis’ 9th grade classes in Camilla, Georgia as part of the #gamifi-ED project. During the semester I participated in a parallel community within the course, the #gamifi-ED Open Online Community, with live video conference events hosted via Google Hangouts on Air.  Over the course of the semester I had the opportunity to help moderate several of the events as well as to give a live presentation on Minecraft for beginners.

Formal Writings

In addition to the learning exchanges performed out in the open, during my course of study I have also had more formal experience in performing research while in pursuit of my duties as a member of a technology support team SERRC TechOps.  SERRC TechOps is a private, non-profit educational resource center that assists school districts across the state of Alaska.  One study focused on understanding the balance between formal and informal learning that occurred within the group when faced with learning a complex new tool, with the intention being that the understanding be used to help shape the team’s learning culture to support future initiatives.  Another study focused on researching professional development of teachers who had been given iPads to use in their classroom.  As part of this study, I assessed teachers’ experience and made recommendations to help guide the trainer in the design and delivery of her materials as well as future training endeavors.  In both of these studies I was the primary research instrument; much of my data was drawn from observations, surveys, and interviews.  It is important in qualitative studies for the researcher to establish trust with the individuals under study in order to garner quality data that can be analyzed and acted upon in the future.

Goals and Standards

University of Alaska Southeast School of Education Standards, Education Technology, Goal 8

a. remain current in knowledge of content and teaching practice. (K)
b. participate in and contribute to the teaching profession. (S)
c. communicate effectively with students, colleagues, and supervisors. (S)
d. demonstrate professional ethics, democratic principles, and collaborative learning communities. (D)

ISTE Standards for Coaches (2011)

1d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms
6b. Engage in continuous learning to deepen professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions in organizational change and leadership, project management, and adult learning to improve professional practice
4a. Conduct needs assessments to inform the content and delivery of technology-related professional learning programs that result in a positive impact on student learning
4b. Design, develop, and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital-age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment
4c. Evaluate results of professional learning programs to determine the effectiveness on deepening teacher content knowledge, improving teacher pedagogical skills and/or increasing student learning


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