I was out at Earl Kitchener last night for an after school in-service. @ggill and @ctstewar – two teachers who have been early adopters on the Commons — had arranged to pull their teachers together to show them this new tool, and it seemed like a great opportunity to run the site through its paces, and potentially create a bit of a “mentor” school fresh out of the gate.
As an introductory effort, I think it went quite well; although I probably could have cut my “blogging platform manifesto” a bit shorter, especially given that you can read it in its entirety here. From there — as happens whenever a you get a large group of people together to learn a new tool — the in-service probably raised more questions than it answered, and everyone at this point would benefit from a one-on-one “how-is-this-going-to-fit-into-my-practice” session; once again highlighting that the large group in-service isn’t necessarily the most effective way to introduce this kind of information, although as a starting-point for making connections, and ensuring that people start down the path of “beginning to know what they don’t know” to paraphrase @jmalloy, it is still a great way to introduce some of the services I can provide as the 21st century fluencies Consultant for the cluster.
As always, the richest interaction happened at the end of the group presentation, when I was able to sit for a few moments with @jmatthew and @ctstewar who will be able to build the capacity of their staff after I’m gone. I look forward to be invited back to help customize the use of the Commons to affect student achievement in each specific classroom.
As the first crack at presenting this Commons platform to the staff, what became immediately clear is that the Groups functionality is confusing, and could have a tendency to muddle the use of the site, especially given the extensive privacy settings that can be utilized to create a private space for students in a blog (rather than using groups at all). I’ve deactivated the Groups functionality for now, with the hopes of utilizing blogs more extensively. Experience with this tool in the past few years (and I think this is something that @apuley will attest to) has indicated that when confined to one tool, a “blog” has revealed itself to be infinitely malleable, and can meet a wide variety of needs. Eliminating this functionality will also eliminate the overlap that may occur between the services the Commons provides, and the functionality of the new employee portal, which will house collaborative spaces for staff.