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June 15, 2012

FEP: Self Assessment of Professional Development – Conferences & CyberSalon

In addition to an assessment of these “3 REQUIRED AREAS” (RFP Section , “AT LEAST TWO ELECTED AREAS” (RFP Section, and other “RELATED AREAS” (REP Section  may also be selected by the faculty member to review, in order to bring into better focus their full professional involvements at the college or within the District.

This post will focus on an elected area: professional development, which Maricopa provides plenty of opportunities for, both inside and out the district. I make it a habit to attend at least two conferences each year. This year I attended InstructureCon in Park City, Utah. This conference was a great venue for learning more about the new LMS Maricopa has adopted. Many other Maricopians were in attendance and it was nice to talk to them about how their implementations were going and to see their great presentations on how they are using Canvas. It was also nice to be able to ask questions of the Instructure team for trouble spots I’ve experienced with Canvas so far. I attended many sessions, including Hack Night. But the most eye-opening experience from the conference was learning about LTI’s and how we can add tools to Canvas using them. LTI is Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) and they allow remote tools and content to be integrated into a Learning Management System (LMS). For instance, I learned that I could add WordPress blogs into my Canvas class using a LTI. Canvas has a list of current LTI integrations that you can explore for more added functionality.
Maricopa at et4online (19)The biggest professional development for me has always been my interactions with like minded individuals within the district and out. A few years back Shelley Rodrigo started a Maricopa professional development group called CyberSalon. We call it a grass roots professional development and several of us have presented about it at national conferences. Laura Ballard and I did a poster session at the Sloan C conference a few years back. Cheryl Colan from RIO designed the poster and Shelley conducted the survey.

Here is a quote that summarizes what CyberSalon is for one member.

“It’s a casual environment that is more conducive to sharing ideas with everyone instead of the information being delivered by one presenter. It’s a little like speed dating….at face-to-face meetings I can hop around the room chatting with everyone getting specific answers to my questions. I also like the group as professional development because knowledge and ideas are being shared by people in the trenches of teaching and not a presenter that gets paid for speaking to educators.”

I learned so much from the 80+ members of CyberSalon over the years. The way it works is we meet up once a month on a more social level and discuss all things related to teaching and learning with technology. Some of the meetups are theme based. We had one on Canvas and another on VoiceThread this year. We’ve also covered WordPress and gaming, but mostly the meetups are just free flowing – discuss whatever is on your mind. When we’re not meeting, some of us are blogging about technology on the CyberSalonAZ blog site, as well as our own blogs. And the meat of the group is the Google group where we share resources and ask questions of each other.

Since Shelley, the group founder, has moved on from teaching in Maricopa, several of us have stepped up to “manage” the group and keep things rolling.

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