I spoke with Mr. Derrick Willard, who has worked for more than 16 years in science education. We tried to Skype-meet before Thanksgiving, but we scheduled for a later time so that I get my Skype to run in my old, beat-up computer, which has seen better days, and has more than enough wrinkles that it would love to botox! I Skype’d with a friend for practice, and everything went well, so I was ready to go. We scheduled our meeting for December 3rd. When we established a connection my buggy computer decided to act up and I couldn’t see him. Fortunately, he could see me just fine and we could hear each other well, so we moved forward with the Skype conversation. Moments later, Skype was able to show him on my screen, so we were all set!
Mr. Willard shared with me some great information about how to tap the best in technology to enhance student learning in the classroom. He has been able to successfully integrate technology into the classroom, and has a blog where he tracks and discusses all the tools that he has at his disposal. In his Twitter account he describes himself as a “science teacher, web 2.0 enthusiast, blogger, lifelong learner, avid fisherman”. Honestly, I am a work in progress on all those accounts and, well, the closest I come to fish is when they stare at me right in the face at the Rochester public market! In the end, I say all this, because it is great to speak with someone who is accomplished in those areas that you are also striving for. And for that I am so grateful to learn about digital technologies like Skype!
Mr. Willard uses a wide array of technological tools in his classroom, and is well noted for piloting classes that incorporate iPad2 tablets. We also took the chance to talk about other technologies like probeware, modeling and simulation software, which have become very important tools in the science classroom. He is also an avid Twitter user, because of its potential for networking and collaboration among peers. We talked about how important it is to be ahead of the learning curve in the realm of digital technology, so that we can educate our students on how to develop positive digital footprints.
I learned a lot from our conversation, and came away with a better understanding about flipped instruction and Professional Learning Networks (PLNs). From there I moved on two read about the pros and cons of flipped instruction: one from edutopia and another one from plpnetwork.com. I also went on to learn more about PLNs as a cost-effective and wide-ranging means for professional development and found great resources on this subject at Pinterest, Gettingsmart.com and Blogpost. In the end, I came away more cognizant about the power of PLNs, flipped instruction, and other means of educational collaboration and interconnectivity that digital technology has made possible. And now that I think about it, having this Skype conversation was in and of itself one of my first planted seeds in my path towards PLNs!