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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Using Technology to Support Professional Learning Communities

Written for class, this is one of the many intersections between my classwork, and my work at the OCDE...

My training or staff development philosophy is based on the idea that teachers are members of a professional learning community...

Chris,

Your discussion of professional learning communities caught my attention. This is a philosophy that has gathered a good deal of momentum in Orange County, and the Department of Education has done a lot of work supporting the development of PLCs in Orange County Schools.

In January these efforts were focused on the two-day workshop Student Success... Whatever It Takes, at which my colleague in the Educational Technology Department, Jason Ediger, presented his philosophy of using technology to support professional learning communities. Jason has since moved on to begin work for Apple computer as the manager for iPod in education, so I have been lucky enough to take over the delivery of his PLC presentation, particularly in the AB 75 and Private School Principal's Academy programs I manage.

The presentation, based on the work of Richard and Becky DuFour, focuses on "laying the foundation" (of shared mission, values, and goals), "developing high-performing teams" (by facilitating communication and the sharing resources), and "developing a results oriented culture." The discussion of specific technologies that can be used to facilitate these things includes project management systems, assessment applications, note-taking (and voice recording) software, RSS feeds and readers, blogging, mind-mapping software, videoconferencing, and online resources.

The big "A-HA!" at the end of the presentation is that the skills learned and refined by members of a PLC are the same skills we desire to impart to our students in the 21st century.

"PLC members will...

- Access, manage, integrate, and evaluate information
- Construct new knowledge
- Communicate with others in order to participate effectively in society"

-Mark

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