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Adventures in Professional Development

Ever spend weeks planning professional development, only to have 2 people show up? At Montana State University-Northern Extended University, short, weekly PD sessions and weekly comics has been entertaining and educating our faculty.

Caleb Hutchins

on 15 March 2017

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Transcript of Adventures in Professional Development

Adventures in pedagogy
MSU-Northern Extended university
Caleb Hutchins
Justin Mason
Instructional Designers
We provide online learning
support to both students and
faculty, we develop tutorials,
modules and resources, and we
professional development
What's the problem with
professional development?

No really, tell us.
right now. we'll wait.
(He left us. we're not bitter.)
Some reasons why Professional Development Sucks
Practical reasons

instructors don't have the free time to commit to long PD sessions
Scheduling can be difficult
poor marketing

How did Tech Snacks work out at first?
Slow but steady uptake in attendance

Early sessions included broad topics like "Learning Objectives,"
"online group work," "accessibility."
we quickly learned to focus most often on smaller specifics.

started with 4-5 page handouts, but instructors didn't read them.
trimmed back to one double-sided page at most

(legal paper is a useful cheat)

conversation often veered off topic.
turns out, this is not necessarily a bad thing!

15 minutes often more like 45, but nobody complained.
"15 minutes" is a good marketing hook, even if it's not always true!

getting the word out was still a problem,
because people don't read faculty-all emails

Learning theory reasons

Long PD sessions are boring
confirmation bias
: humans tend to over-value what they already know, under-value what they don't know
Institutional cultural reasons

Faculty often disregard user-all emails
knowledge silos
: lack of community, cooperation, knowledge sharing between departments and individuals
Poisoned wells
: bad past experiences with ineffective pd pushed on them by admins
So we tried something a little different
Practical solutions

Short, 15-minute pd sessions
Scheduled weekly
two locations on campus
multiple time windows

Learning theory solutions

flipped PD model
(usually) simple topics
framed as a discussion, not a one-way transfer of information
Institutional cultural solutions

Develop a "Community of practice"
Instructors share their own expertise and ideas with us and each other
we bring coffee and snacks!
Adventures in pedagogy
Weekly comics promote "Tech SNacks" professional development sessions

comics "sneak in" technology and pedagogy concepts

"Flipped classroom" strategy, Comics prime
Tech Snack participants with big picture concepts

often includes faculty as "special guests"

Comics try to be funny, weird, self-deprecating,
occasionally edgy or campus-topical
Constraints and Practicalities
Planning and creating comics takes time

Generating a list of Tech Snacks topics

We always tried to get ahead, we usually failed

It can be hard to get feedback from instructors

What do you do on your campus?
what would you like to do?
No really, tell us.
right now. we'll wait.
In your experience, are there any
cultural barriers on your campus?

No really, tell us.
right now. we'll wait.
“knowing a subject well is sufficient training to teach it” (Stevens, 1988, p. 64)
We thought we were doing
everything "textbook right," but engagement was still lukewarm
Full transcript