Our district is trying many new things in the area of technology, but more importantly, in the areas of creativity, collaboration, communication, and connections. We have a number of different opportunities in our district including a 6-part series called Engaging the Digital Learner Dinner Series for teachers and administrators. We also have a 7-part series entitled, Digital Sandbox: Connect, Create and Share for Administrators.
As part of our Digital Sandbox series, we had our second administrator blogging session tonight, led by our district’s Deputy Superintendent, Jordan Tinney. There were approximately 60 excited, yet nervous administrators in the room. It was clear that they were there to learn and to create! Our leaders were going to demonstrate their life-long love of learning tonight! How exciting!
Initially, Jordan planned to start and end the session as a whole group, with 4 break out sessions in the middle of the evening, with each break out session focussing on a different level/area of blogging. With so many people in the room, there were many different needs – just like in our classrooms. Jordan’s plan had to be changed somewhat as the location needed to be altered. The new location would not have the possibility of separate rooms to have separate sessions.
As the problem solver he is, Jordan took this opportunity to create a series of 15 modules in iTunes U, entitled, WordPress User’s Group. The modules start with the very basic introduction to WordPress, move on to choosing a blog theme, to creating pages, to creating custom menus, to widgets and plugins to finally talking about choosing a domain (plus everything in between). Each module has a short video in which Jordan screencasted the information about the particular topic he discussed. The videos are very easy to follow and user-friendly.
As one of the facilitators, I was able to help those who got stuck or those who were not able to use the iTunes U Course for whatever reason (they may have forgotten their ear buds, for instance). We were all in one large room and it really worked. As I helped people, I could see other administrators helping one another with things they themselves had just learned. There was a nice buzz in the room. The lovely sound of keys typing away swept throughout the room. You could see smiles on people’s faces as they nervously pushed publish for the first time. It was an exciting night, indeed!
While this may not have been what Jordan had first envisioned when he started designing this opportunity for others (and it certainly ended up being a lot more work for him), but it worked. It worked REALLY well. I think it worked even better than it would have if there were separate rooms for different topics. This allowed everyone the opportunity to help others at different places in their learning. It allowed people to share their own learning and expertise. It allowed a level of differentiation and personalization that the administrators can now continue on with whenever and wherever they choose – not just when we come together for these blogging sessions.
Not only did these new administrator bloggers learn and create, but they became models for one another, for other administrative colleagues around the district, and models for staff members as a result.
What a great night of learning, but, most importantly, what a great night of leading the learning for all educators in our district.
With Jordan’s permission, if you are interested in using Jordan’s WordPress course in iTunesU, all you need to do is search “Surrey Schools” or “Jordan Tinney” in iTunesU and the WordPress Users Group will come up. Happy Blogging!