Student-delivered PD: An idea whose time has come?
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
A collection of thoughts about P-12 professional development, with a (hopefully) whiz-bang ending...\n
Big idea 1: Most current staff development is awful.\n
We have known for decades what leads to powerful adult learning and what constitutes effective professional development. Yet the 3 or 4days per year, 'sit and get,' one-size-fits-all training model still persists on a large scale. Shame on us.\n
Big idea 2: School vision statements are feckless.\n
You'd be hard-pressed to find a school organization that doesn't have a vision, mission, or purpose statement that says blah blah blah life long learning blah blah blah. And yet we don't really model 'life long learning' very well. Administrators feel that they can show no weakness in front of staff or parents. Teachers feel that they must be the experts before they can 'teach' students. No one has tried to operationalize the concept or delineate what it actually looks like. In terms of impact on daily practice, it's a meaningless feel-good aphorism (much like all kids can learn). Shame on us.\n
Big idea 3: Schools have a great deal of internal expertise.\n
At the risk of impacting my occasional consulting income, I'm willing to say that most districts would be better served by having in-house experts deliver training rather than paying some outside guru big bucks to come in for a day (or hour). There's a tremendous wealth of in-house expertise that goes ignored within school organizations. Shame on us.\n
Big idea 4: Students are experts too.\n
Tapscott & Williams note in Wikinomics (2006) that this is the first time in human history when children are authorities on something really important (p. 47). In other words, when it comes to digital technologies, our kids often are (or, given the chance, could rapidly become) the experts. We ignore this expertise in most school organization. Shame on us.
All of this leads me to...\n
Big idea 5: Have students deliver technology-related training!\n
Put Big Ideas 1 and 3 together and it's clear that school organizations should do a better job of peer-to-peer training. Throw in Big Ideas 2 and 4 and we see that many school organizations could easily structure technology training opportunities for educators, parents, and students where children and adolescents were the instructors or co-instructors. The kids get the learning power and social/emotional benefit of being teachers and leaders. Adults and other students learn from the true experts.\n
All we have to do is walk away from our egos and our fear and embrace our mission statements, the ones that say that we all should be learners and say nothing about from whom we must learn.\n
How about it? You ready to start doing this?\n
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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