Thursday, January 10, 2013

Viral Intelligence: A Post Script on an EdCamp-eque Institute Day.

In my previous blog post, I wrote about an upcoming institute day in which staff members volunteered to present to their colleagues. I envisioned it as similar to an EdCamp experience, but we front loaded the presentations to give people time to plan. (As opposed to doing it as spontaneously as an actual Edcamp).

Since it's our first semester with 1:1, many of the sessions revolved around technology tools and techniques, but our Literacy Liaisons also did some dynamite sessions on disciplinary literacy as well. See the schedule with links to presenters' materials. 

After all was said and done, I think we landed on a pretty powerful format.

I sent out a brief follow up survey asking participants about the experience. Given around 190 responses, 97% agreed or strongly agreed that the format was effective and the sessions were worthwhile. 99% agreed that they were able to find one thing that they can use personally or professionally. I guess that's about all you can ask from a professional learning experience.

Some anonymous comments about the day were as follows:

  • "This "buffet" style of an institute is far more effective and engaging than the traditional format. I would love to see us continue to use this format!"
  • "Really enjoyed listening to what my colleagues are doing and how well they are doing it.  It grew a greater respect and appreciation."
  • "This was the best institute day yet- I enjoyed all of the sessions I attended and was able to take something away from each one."
  • I liked being able to choose my sessions and found it beneficial to see what other teachers are doing in their classrooms."
  • "This might be the best institute day I've ever been to.  It flew by, I loved the relaxed nature of it, and the ability to choose based on interest was awesome.  It's always great to hear from fellow faculty members--much better than a hired "talking head" consultant from the outside."
  • "It was FABULOUS! Just a taste of many different topics of my own choosing was an excellent idea... one I hope will happen many times in the future."
  • "Some great offerings - hard to choose.  Glad for the online resources for those workshops I could not attend."

This wordle was created from all the anonymous comments we have received.

That's not to say we can't improve on what we did. For example, whoever is scheduling this whole thing (ahem...) shouldn't put all the rooms in one small area of the building so as to bog down the network. Ooops.

As other comments suggested, time is always an issue. We needed more time for some sessions, and less time for others, but I believe that's a function of our first time doing this. However, regardless of the session length, we definitely need more processing time and opportunities to "play" with the tools and techniques presented. If we had a couple more hours to play with, we could have done that. I'm convinced that allowing people who work across disciplines to share new and exciting techniques is far too valuable an opportunity to pass up.

I've really taken to a line I took from a book called "Multipliers" by Wiseman and McKeown: viral intelligence.  In my previous post, I wrote, "If we're doing things right in an organization, we should be building collective viral intelligence. ... We should be collaborating, cooperating, creating, and sharing so that we end up with exponential growth in our collective skill set."

I believe when we do this again, we will have even more staff members volunteer to present. They've seen what their colleagues put together the first time, and I know for a fact that many are thinking, "That's not so scary. I can do that!" Even better, they can now see they they too have something valuable to share with their fellow educators.

Thus the virus spreads.........

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