Monday, August 12, 2019

Kind of Like a Twitter Chat Almost

It's a weird moment. A full circle moment. Maybe a moment that should happen more often.

I lead an educational technology class for pre-service teachers as an adjunct professor. Like any other ed-tech class we have a Twitter Chat task. Now I'm in grad school and I need to join a Twitter chat. Weird.

But it is summer. A fleeting glance at the "back in my day" #pblchat feedback didn't show an recent organized meet up or discussion. Neither did #miched.


It seems somewhat serendipitous that I received an invite to a think-tank/design meeting for "West Michigan PBL Network," and I'm going to reflect on it in lieu of a Twitter chat. Bear with me, I think this works.

Here's what I'm taking away from sitting, standing, presenting, pacing, and hand waving in a stick note littered, chart paper scented meeting room at Grand Valley State this morning:

Three musings of what this West Michigan PBL Network thing is or might be.

  • Leaders from Kent, Ottawa, and Muskegon County ISDs realized they all have different PBL initiatives and pockets of success. Why not combine forces?
  • Those leaders decided to put some PBL teachers in a room, give them vague prompts, run design thinking protocols, and then just see what happens. 
  • An underlying assumption seems to be that if teacher are the ones empowered to orchestrate and design this network, it might actually be effective in spreading the PBL mindset to more schools and classrooms. 

Three personal reflections on the nature of professional learning in the education field.

  • I don't really use Twitter. Don't tell anyone. I used to, and it was transformative during college and my first few years teaching. With connections established, my PLN growth and encouragement happens on Voxer, conferences/school visits, consulting work, and new opportunities like the PBL Network design team. 
  • We discussed a bunch today about professional learning living in both physical and digital spaces. I kept thinking back to Edcamp conferences and was saddened thinking about the death of EdcamptGR. Maybe it could be resurrected? Maybe the unconference format, or a hybrid with PBL 101 tracks combined with a digital social platform could be the foundation of the West Michigan PBL Network?
  • Hot take: slack isn't the answer to fostering meaningful online engagement and teacher collaboration. So far I've used Slack with middle school students, teaching college education students, for a graduate class, and with the PBL consulting/training organization I work for. When Slack came up in the meeting today, my immediate hunch was "no." Slack is a real time messenger, not a discussion and networking platform. Voxer facilitates voice discussion, sharing stories, and depth. I want to dabble with Twist, and see if offers a different way forward. 
Ok, so it's not a Twitter Chat. One of the ISD leaders in the room today was a co-founder of the #miched chat back in the day- maybe it counts? :)

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