Professional Learning in my school district is ineffective. While I’m sure the intentions of our district administrators are good, it is a rare occasion that I walk away from a professional learning experience feeling inspired, or with knowledge of something that will make me a more effective technology instructor. In my mind, professional learning should focus on making my colleagues and I better teachers, and more effective at presenting engaging lessons. Instead, it focuses on teaching us how to assess data, how to navigate our new curriculum, how to administer standardized testing, and how to manage other district mandated tools. None of these have anything to do with our effectiveness as actual educators. They are also not specific to our disciplines.
I am a technology instructor. I have very little use for the district mandated curriculum, which focuses on core subjects. I also have very little use for the data that comes from standardized assessments, because technology is not among the skills assessed. My attendance as well as that of my friends from the music, art and physical education departments is mandatory at these meetings, which are an extremely ineffective use of our time.
My district has invested a lot of money into making iPads and laptops accessible to students throughout the district. But they have invested very little time in providing training for our teachers to use the devices effectively. It is a goal of my Innovation Plan (MoBLE) to convince our administrators that our teachers need training and time to create more blended learning environments in which they can use the devices that have been made available to them.
The video below calls attention to the five key principles of effective (professional) learning. My video does not focus on professional learning exclusively, as my feeling is that these key principles apply to learners of all ages. We are all learners, no matter what the age, and no matter what the environment. And we are all teachers to some extent, as we share our knowledge with others. So I like to think that my video will appeal to a more general audience than just my administration.
I began by writing a summary of my argument for more effective learning experiences. After watching Denise Duarte’s video about creating more effective visual presentations, I decided to avoid PowerPoint and create a video instead (Stanford, 2013). (I’ve never been a fan of PowerPoint, and wanted to do something more challenging and creative.) My plan was to create a video. After hearing Dr. Sue Bedard’s web-conference reminder that it needed to be short and to the point, and that it needed to get her attention in order for her to want to watch it, I decided to base it on a successful PSA called The More You Know.
With the understanding that I couldn’t copy the tagline from the aforementioned PSA, I decided on one of my own. Teaching with learning in mind seemed to address the overall message of my presentation and is a tagline that could be repurposed in future projects. I searched for free-to-use resources as I planned my project, finding an animated background by MotionArray, and piano music by Di Evantile, both of which granted permission for non-monetized use of the resources.
My plan was to use Adobe Premiere and Aftereffects to create my video. (It’s something I have experience in, and it’s been installed on my laptop, but haven’t used in a few years.) I also planned on using a green screen, which meant Windows Movie Maker wasn’t an option since it doesn’t support layered video. I pulled my green screen out of storage and had my husband help me to convert the storage room in my basement into a green screen studio. That’s where I recorded my video.
I typed up my script in Windows Movie Maker as scrolling credits, which I used as a teleprompter. I recorded it in front of the green screen, and seemed to have all the resources I need to put the movie together… only to be interrupted by a family tragedy which brought everything to a halt – and seven family members from Florida to my home for the weekend. By the time I was able to assemble everything in Premiere, it was crunch time.
Stanford Graduate School of Business (2013, February 19). Nancy Duarte: How to Create Better Visual Presentations. Retrieved March 3, 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so9EJoQJc-0.