We had 21 (!) contributors to this week's discussion which is an all-time record and the quality of the debate was very high.
Q1: Aside from Twitter where do you get a chance to share ideas and learn from other teachers?
It was obvious that the #NIedchat community is a pretty 'geeky' lot. Most respondents talked about blogs and forums that they read or participated in. A number mention Google Reader as a good way of organizing reading material. I was suggested a few times that teachers prefer to learn from other teachers and that initiative like #TMBelfast were to be welcomed and encouraged. An interesting initiative was mentioned by @cnicaodha . Her school operates a sharing good practice event where 20 teachers are given 20 minutes to describe their best activity.
Q2. Is self directed CPD through blogs and discussion forums the norm in your place of work?
As was expected the answer to this was a resounding "NO!". Reading blogs and engaging in online discussions is a minority sport among NI teachers. Having seen the benefits that professional networking has had for their own professional development a number of teachers have attempted to get blogs and forums up and running in their schools...with little success. The problems suggested were that many teachers feel overwhelmed by weekly meetings and demands on their time and that blogging and engaging with Twitter can seem daunting for the uninitiated. There was a suggestion that there should be some central resource for teachers to tap into which would open up a number of avenues for exploration. @medv2 suggested that Elluminate on the LNI platform would be a good vehicle for CPD and she indicated that she would be willing to host an Elluminate meeting for interested teachers.
Q3. Many teachers are reluctant to share what they do. Why is this?
Most agreed that a reluctance to share was a problem within the teaching profession. A number said that in their experience teachers are unwilling to share resources that they have created as it is seen as 'unfair' that someone else would benefit from their effort. This has had an impact on the efforts by some to promote VLE's and wikis as shared resource areas. Others mentioned that he culture of teachers is not to accept any acclaim for outstanding work. This makes teachers reluctant to come forward and share their good practice with others. This 'culture' is changing according to some as evidenced by teacher actitvity on Twitter, on blogs and through the web in general. One point made was that if teachers could see the benefit of collaboration then they would be more likely to give to a community. On a positive note it seems that languages teachers are very good at sharing resources as evidence by their wikis and twitter groups. They did however put this down to the fact that they are under-resourced and therefore feel compelled to consolidate! The idea of having a central place for sharing resources was mooted. Many felt that with the explosion in sharing options what is now needed is a central repository for resources to assist teachers' professional development.
Q4 Best place for sharing ideas and resources
Interesting Ways http://edte.ch/blog/interesting-ways/
Task Magic http://www.taskmagic.com/
Yahoo Groups http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mflresources/
Content Generator http://www.contentgenerator.net/
Class Tools http://www.contentgenerator.net/
Blogs / Wikis
A proposal was made by @daithimurray that the #NIedchat community should produce a podcast version of the discussion. The idea has grown wings and like magic it has developed it's very own wiki which you can visit here.
Tweet of the Week
A tough choice this week again but I felt that no one can argue with the sentiments and need expressed in Damian's tweet: