Yesterday I participated in Playdatedg58, a new (at least to me) type of professional development/workshop for interested educators, administrators and technology integration specialists. Playdate stands for People Learning Asking Y: Digital Age Teacher Exploration. This type of conference was different than many that I’ve attended in the past. There were no sponsors, booths, fees, or paper involved in this conference. This is the first conference that I’ve attended that seemed to be paperless. Most of the conference was organized by District 58 teachers and specialists. According to the Playdate site, only a handful of Playdate conferences have occurred in the past. I don’t believe this event would have been possible without teacher and administration support. Based on what I saw, it seemed that the District 58 leadership enthusiastically embraced the idea of having a summer workshop and I believe the superintendent was even in attendance. Overall, I believe around 200 attendees were present from all over the state of Illinois. Many of the participants were from neighboring school districts. I appreciate that the workshop leaders allowed other educators from neighboring school districts to join in on the learning. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case with structured professional development. The schedule was from 8:00 – 12:30 and I attached a screen shot below. Each session had a link that was attached to a live GoogleDoc that anyone could edit. What’s great is that these links will be available so that attendees, or anyone, can access and utilize the information for next school year. Feel free to click the image to be directed to the appropriate link.
Playdates seem to emphasize the notion that professional development doesn’t need to be contained locally. It’s becoming increasingly evident that local school district professional development is changing. Teachers with a variety of talents are seeking out their own professional development through social media and other means. Twitter has allowed opportunities for teachers to connect with other people in the education community. In fact, that is how I was informed on this particular Playdate. Educators and administrators are beginning to notice that learning opportunities exist through our PLNs and some of the best professional development can occur outside of our district walls. Moreover, I was able to meet members of my PLN face to face and make additional connections with people across the state. Making these connections also amplifies the professional learning opportunities that teachers are able to access. I hope that other school districts are able to find opportunities for their staff to participate in similar Playdate models in the future.