[Technology 1195] Prosessional Development Design & Development for the 21st Century

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David J. Rosen djrosen at comcast.net
Wed Aug 8 22:30:38 EDT 2007

Technology colleagues,

I posted the message below to the professional development list
today. It may also be of interest here.

David J. Rosen
djrosen at comcast.net

....there was one finding in the NSDC report that I think we should
pay special attention to. ..

“Structured, course-based offerings scheduled during specific time
periods are being replaced by on-demand, individualized learning

What this means, I think, is "just-in-time" professional development,
including asynchronous online professional development that is
tailored to teachers' needs as they see them, or tailored to
professional development requirements that, in any case, they must meet.

What is your mental image of what this looks like? Short, Web-based
courses? Weekly "webinars"? "Podcasts"? Wikis? Blogs? Discussion

My mental image isn't any one of these; it's all of them and much,
much more. My image comes from my experience online with Second Life
(SL). Some of what I will describe below is happening in SL now,
some is projection into the very near future, only a year or two.

(Select the Web address below to see me in Second Life)

Second Life is a three-dimensional online environment, a bunch of
"islands" where some people build amazing architecture and where
other people -- moving about as their chosen "avatars", dressed
however they like -- explore, visit, spend time, and do things. What
do people do in Second Life? That's like asking what do people do in
Europe or China. Who can know all the things they do? But here's a
start: they walk, run, look around, and fly (yes fly -- some of
those who are physically challenged in real life say it's amazingly
liberating.) They teleport themselves to another island, talk with
other avatars, gesture to them in normal and strange ways, sit down
(on furniture, floor, grass, park benches, and more), flirt (and
probably more), watch movies, shop (in real online stores with real
money, as well as with SL money called Linden Dollars).

More to the point, they take seminars and courses at real (and
invented) colleges and universities. And there is some talk of there
soon being a GED center on SL.

All of that is happening in SL now, but let's fast forward a bit to
the near future, and imagine this scenario:

I am a GED teacher (although my avatar dresses casually, not in
typical classroom garb) and in Second Life I am young and female, not
grey and male. I teleport from the entrance to the National Adult Ed
Teacher Professional Growth Center (remember this part is projection;
it is not real yet) where I see a billboard catalog of offerings.
Some offerings are short videos of teachers and classes, good
examples of content standards and best practices; some are seminars
("webinars") and, since there are hundreds of adult ed teachers here
with me in real time, some can be just-in-time introductory courses,
workshops and study circles. I sign up for a study circle on
workplace literacy that begins in two days, because I work part-time
and I have noticed that some of the part-time jobs for teachers who
work at companies sound interesting and pay better.

I also sign up for a one-hour introduction to the workplace literacy
basic skills teacher professional development course. The intro is
offered right now. There are seven other teachers (their avatars)
with me -- some look really weird!. Some say they have taken lots of
courses and workshops at the Professional Growth Center, some are
newbies like me. In the intro to workplace basic skills, we listen,
chat in dyads (using Instant Messenger), ask questions that the
teacher answers (using SL's free voice software,) and at the end,
after getting a copy of the course schedule that my avatar keeps as
her own, I head over to the Growth Center's coffee cafe for some
shop talk with one of the other teachers in the workplace literacy
basic skills Introduction, who it turns out in real life (IRL) is
from my state.

This may seem far-fetched, but most of this can be designed on SL
right now, and many more "just-in-time" features can be linked in to
SL. This is a highly interactive environment.

Have you been to Second Life? Have you been thinking -- as I am --
that this has very exciting potential for highly interactive
professional development? Is anyone working on building an adult
education PD center on SL now? If so, let us know. Maybe we can put
together an online PD work project group to first learn more about
SL, and then to experiment with building a PD center. Anyone interested?

For those who are curious about SL, when you have a couple of hours,
start here:


David J. Rosen (aka DJ Duncan on SL)
djrosen at comcast.net