Virtually Engaged! Building Virtual Professional Development Communities

This is the Prezi I developed to go with a presentation I gave at Shar-E-Fest. The Prezi resource was designed to be used as a presentation at the ‘top’ level, but if you look closer, and drill down (a bit like a treasure hunt), you will find heaps more detail. Have fun!!!

The abstract reads as follows: “Current models of Professional Development (PD) provision are being evaluated. As a result, one of the mainstays of education intuitions, the generic workshop, has been identified as having number of fundamental flaws. Hand-in-hand with this is the request by teachers for increased PD to help them with ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) projects. The Virtual Professional Development (VPD) Model has been developed in response to these factors. VPD is based around a community of learning, with a goal to provide peer-supported PD around ICTELT.

There are currently ten tertiary, secondary and primary school teachers from a variety of locations ranging from Kaitaia to Canterbury involved in this pilot initiative. The national facilitator works with these teachers to develop their own highly-contextualised learning plans. After an initial face-to-face meeting the group now meets regularly using the Internet based webinar tool Adobe Connect to share skills, experiences and ideas and to enable peer mentoring relationships to build. Facilitated sessions are at a time and place which is flexible to each teacher\’s needs. These exchanges are complemented by interactions within a social networking space (Ning), as well as through access to their own ‘sandpit’ courses in a learning management system (Moodle), where they have the opportunity to experiment and try out skills before going live with learners. Skill-sets and experience vary in the VPD group, and this is offering great opportunities for participants to take on facilitator and learner roles.

The main factors that are becoming apparent from the evaluations to date is that the VPD model could be effective for future PD initiatives. However unlike generic workshops, VPD is mainly 1) about affective factors – community, belonging and relationships; 2) a personalised, contextualised curriculum; and 3) an experience where upskilling takes second place to a teacher’s own learning ‘journey’ which is all about their identity as educators and their beliefs about learning.”

Please cite as: Owen, H. (2010, 27-28 September). Virtually Engaged! Building Virtual Professional Development Communities. Paper presented at the Shar-E-fest Conference.

About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ ( I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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