Via Stephen Downes comes this link to the Open PD project, a world-wide professional development opportunity for teachers to learn about social networking tools together. What's interesting to me is the model, which could be applied across occupations, industries and topics. This happens to be a group of teachers learning about social media. It could just as easily be a group of managers learning about how to support their employees.
The group is using basic tools available for free--a wiki (hosted on Wikispaces) for managing and sharing course materials and Skype and Ustream for audio and video interactions during "class." It also looks like some of the participants are creating wiki-based portfolios for professional development credits.
If you watch the video, you'll see that teachers from the US, Australia, Argentina and other countries are participating in the project. Imagine the learning that occurs when you get not only the perspectives of people from different school districts, but from entirely different school systems.
Darren Draper, one of the organizers of the project, writes about his conception of open professional development, building from the ideas of open source software:
- Open Enrollment - All that desire are welcome to participate.
- Free of charge.
- Combines the established tradition of sharing good ideas with fellow educators and the collaborative, interactive culture of the Internet.
- Built on the belief that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint.
- Not limited to the course we've named OpenPD. Thus more of a movement - like Open Education - than a particular class.
- At times can be on-demand - but not limited to such. Sessions should be recorded and archived as a general rule.
These are ideas that can apply to professional development in any number of professions and industries, not just education, although one advantage teachers may have is that there is more of an organizational culture of professional development that has evolved over time than may exist in other occupations.
Most definitely an interesting model to watch.