For the past two months, my friend and fellow librarian, Mollee Holloman and I have been working hard on our new venture. Since meeting each other over the summer at a local tech conference I presented at, she and I have kept in touch through Twitter. We have talked a lot about how hard it is as librarians to truly take a leading role in professional development since both of our districts have Instructional Technology Facilitators and it’s hard to entice our colleagues to stay after school for learning opportunities. While it helped me to know that this is not a struggle I am alone in, I wasn’t satisfied with simply sending out emails to my colleagues about tools and resources for tech integration. I am a huge advocate for professional learning and take part in this myself by constantly reading professional literature, remaining active with my PLN through Twitter and attending as many PD opportunities as I can virtually and in person. I am able to put much energy into growing professionally because I take the time to seek out these things, but not everyone around me has that kind of time.
This realization is what led me to the idea of a virtual professional development site for my school. I have been so inspired by the work of Laura Fleming, with digital virtual learning opportunities and digital badges, as well as Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers. Both of these educators helped me to construct the beginning ideas for what is now Quick Tech by TM. Knowing that I didn’t want to take this risk on my own, I approached Mollee and asked if she’d be interested in working together to create a site for both of our schools. She immediately agreed, so I filled her in on the ideas I had constructed so far, including framing the professional learning as challenges. From there, we were off and running. Through countless emails, texts and Google Hangouts, our idea was born. She came up with our name and together, we created the framework that we will use for each challenge we create.
I am fortunate to be married to a web developer, who graciously gave Mollee and I much of his time to develop our site from the ground up. Once it was built, my husband showed me how to navigate the inner workings of WordPress, which in turn I shared with Mollee. What seemed so intimidating at the start (using WordPress), is now so easy for both of us. We have added our first round of challenges and are having a live Google Hangout on Air with the faculties from both of our schools next Thursday, February 19th at 8pm to launch our site. We have also created a Twitter account for the site and have begun tweeting and throwing around ideas for special weekly tweets and possible Twitter chats.
To say that I’m beyond excited about this site is a grave understatement. I am thrilled that I have such an awesome librarian friend and partner to take this journey with and am humbled by the positive words I’ve already received from my staff concerning this effort and our live GHoA. Our main goal is to provide our colleagues with learning opportunities that are accessible, concise and relevant. Our challenges are built around what our colleagues need and want; designed with them in mind. And on top of that, we hope to have the staff of our two schools network and begin to grow and nourish their PLNs. In the end, we hope to inspire and empower others.