What better way to help teachers develop their Professional Development Plans (PDPs) than to go “virtual?” Rather than gathering everyone in one place around the school day, set up an online forum in which everyone can share his/her ideas. What’s terrific about this virtual environment is that teachers are able to collaboratively develop goals for next year as well as come together to pool their professional learning resources. Teachers may come to realize that they’re establishing the same goals as their peers and can work together to achieve these goals.
Online forums can be facilitated daily and email notifications can alert the moderator when a teacher posts a new comment, idea, or response. A leader can provide example goals for teachers and redirect anyone who may be straying from the mission of the goal planning process.
It is often a challenge for educators to share and collaborate. Perhaps it is the day to day schedule that constrains us from being able to sit and talk about our craft. Online networking environments provide the perfect vehicle with which to foster professional talk among teachers. You don’t need district computer servers to host special networking applications. Below is a list of sites that offer free networking services that allow “subscribers” to post comments and read responses:
-Blogger (click) is one of the most popular free blogging sites that can be used to facilitate online discussions.
-Talki (click) allows you to embed a forum in your website, Moodle, and any other existing website or service you’re already supporting.
-Thinkfold (click) provides a structured environment to help groups collaborate on ideas, documents, presentations and plans.