In The Beginning

In September 2007, Darren was scheduled to teach a professional development class to teachers in the Jordan School District. The class would be called "Social Software in the Classroom" and would explore various social software applications and their uses in educational settings. Rather than simply explain how to use the tools, however, Darren decided it would be more effective to actually use the tools to hold the class.

To begin the process, he wrote about the class on his blog - asking teachers around the world if they would be interested in joining in on the fray. Soon after Robin took the bait and volunteered to participate in the class. Little did she know at the time that Darren would rope her into co-teaching the class with him, and from opposite ends of the country.

Glitches, Glitches, Glitches

Prior to our first night of class we had tested several tools together not knowing what the best tool was. Initially we had planned to use a combination of Yugma, Skype, Quicktime streaming server, and possibly Ustream. We included others from around the country with more experience using these to tools to ensure our in class success. With all of our testing completed without any glitches we were confident our first night would be a success.

Boy were we surprised! In spite of the patience demonstrated by the participants on our first evening the technology demons were out full force. The Quicktime stream was blocked, did not work because the account was unknowingly password protected, and skype quit at least 4-5 times (probably due to the large number of participants). Through it all people stayed and Sue Waters came to the rescue providing an Elluminate room. Needless to say what we thought was our thorough planning all fell apart.

Happily by our final session we were able to get all of our applications running smoothly. In the end we learned that CamTwist plus provides an excellent way to share your screen and view the teacher. Skype is great when the connections are few and the pro version of Yugma is a good way to allow one person to control the desktop of another.

A Model For Future Collaborative Professional Development

We hope this is only the beginning of a new avenue to provide professional development collaboratively in an engaging atmosphere using social software to teach social software. We have learned the true value of opening our doors to others around the world in developing curriculum and teaching and learning together.