Tech Tidbits: Kim Cofino’s Disruptive PD Technology

Tech Tidbits: Increasing Teachers’ Digital Efficiency | always learning

Just finished a pedagogically provocative post on crowdsourcing “tech tidbits”.  Kim Cofino gets a handle on what is needed in training now–something short, something cheap, something that builds tech capacity–to help us get the most out of the limited time we have to learn. And, neatest of all, she flies in under the radar with a truly subversive learning framework.

Who can argue that simple tools like using ‘CMD+F’ or ‘CTL+F’ to find something on a webpage or in a pdf is not important?  No one. In fact, in the short time horizon we will be generating a zettabyte of data in one year.  Any filtering tool that might help us dig through that midden mound is a very happy one.
Cofino runs these PD sessions like “a fair”.
1.Fifteen teacher/trainers are seated waiting to teach one ‘tidbit’ listed below:
  • Creating labels in Gmail
  • Creating e-mail lists in Contacts
  • Install Google Notifier to set up web Gmail as your default email client (this has saved me hours of work)
  • Creating collections in Google Docs and organizing your files
  • Making a copy of a document & saving for yourself (to edit)
  • Sharing a collection with a group (made in your Contacts list) or a colleague
  • Make a Google Doc public, for linking on your class blog
  • Check the revision history in a Google Doc
  • Creating events in Google Calendar and setting automatic reminders via e-mail
  • Creating repeating events in Google Calendar
  • Importing the school’s calendar into your own Google Calendar
  • Creating a Google Reader account and subscribing to feeds
  • Create a bundle of feeds in Reader for each class you teach
  • Adding feeds to folders in Reader
  • Recording screencasts in QuickTime
2. Everyone (trainers and learners alike) has access to a shared Google Doc with the day’s training agenda (topics and trainer contact info).
3. Teacher pair up with teachers in a cafeteria style.  Cofino compares this to speed dating only she calls it “speed geeking”.
4. The teachers then become the trainers and new learner/teachers rotate in from the other “dates’. Reminds me of a tactic I used in middle school called “the wheel” where you have an inner core of teachers and an outer core of learners.  It really is a clever modification of jigsawing.
5.  If one of the trainees felt they could teach one of the tidbits then they would put their name down on the Google Doc.  I am reminded of Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society and Sugata Mitra’s ‘child-driven learning’
I hope Cofino realizes how utterly subversive this pedagogy is.  What’s good for the teachers is good for the students, n’est ce pas?  And doesn’t this model fit the world we live in better than the dead institution walking that passes for schools today?
6.  When you are done you have two very important results:  learners got to control what they wanted to learn (to a limited degree), learners got to share what they learned, and learners got a list of those with expertise to call upon.  The shared Google Doc would also serve as a place to add future learning needs and perhaps to share with parents and administrators and staff who might want to be a part of that learning community.
Kim Cofino should get a big shout and a happy one, too.  This is a great PD framework as well as a model for what should be happening in our schools every day.  Perhaps this is just the trojan mouse we need to leverage the tipping point needed to turn our schools from bridges to nowhere (the 20th Century) to bridges to somewhere (the emerging future).  Or as Illich puts it, “Our present educational institutions are at the service of the teacher’s goals. The relational structures we need are those which will enable each man to define himself by learning and by contributing to the learning of others.”
(Illich, Ivan. Deschooling society. Calder and Boyars, 1971. Print.)

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One thought on “Tech Tidbits: Kim Cofino’s Disruptive PD Technology

  1. Kim Cofino says:

    Thank you so much for your kind feedback about this method. There was definitely a positive vibe in the air as teachers were learning and sharing. I’m looking forward to trying it again in a few weeks to see how teachers respond to a second round. Personally, I feel really strongly about the idea of “distributed PD” (a post in the works at the moment). Technology PD should not only come from the Tech Coach/Facilitator – everyone has ideas and advice they can share. The more we get teachers talking to each other, the more we can highlight the fantastic things teachers are doing, and the more we can get this kind of collaboration embedded into the way we do things at school, the more fun and effective it will be.

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