We launched our second year of collaboration, self-study, and exploration on October 23 with a discussion of Dustin C. Summey’s Developing Digital Literacies: A Framework for Professional Learning. Since most of the attendees were new to the DLC, we spent a fair amount of time introducing ourselves and the context in which we teach and learn. We also talked quite a bit about what makes professional learning effective and (no surprise here) agreed that good teaching is good teaching, no matter the age of the learners. We shared our experiences with professional learning as educators as well as the elements of our own Professional Learning Networks (PLNs), a teacher development structure that Summey highlights in the book.
For me, the most interesting aspect of our October 23 meeting was what it was like to experiment with a new technological tool. Because a number of the DLC members were unable to attend this session, I wanted to videotape it so that everyone could watch it at some point. We have always used Google Hangout for our study groups, so I did some research on Hangout on Air, another Google tool that records Hangouts and uploads them to YouTube. Because I had never used this tool before and wanted to use it for the first session of the new year with new members, I was nervous. I tested the tool numerous times over the week before our Hangout, read the tips posted online, and carefully planned my set-up.
Once the Hangout started, it was clear that some DLC members were having challenges with the new tool. I received messages from several people that they were watching the live feed but couldn’t figure out how to actually join the Hangout. But then again, when they did actually join us we didn’t have to catch them up on anything because they’d sort of been part of the conversation all along. I also appreciated that recording the conversation provided multiple entry points for participants. And it was exciting to use a new tool, not just for the novelty but because it truly enhanced our group’s ability to communicate and collaborate. Reflecting on my planning and facilitation now, I can see how much more comfortable I was using this new tool than I have in the past. I think that giving myself time to research, plan, and test beforehand was key. Trying a new tool might be a feature we want to consider adding to our study group sessions.