I've been thinking lately about the "scalability" of professional development strategies. I think this is becoming increasingly important; while the stakes to improve student achievement grow ever higher, the expectations of preparing students for 21st century skills are changing as well. So, we need to develop ways to help reach as many teachers as possible with our professional development in these new tools. As Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach wrote last month, we need to plan for scale as we develop professional development plans in our districts.
One of the advantages of web 2.0 tools is that their scalability is not driven by the trainer or the professional development coordinator, it's that the scalability is driven by the teachers themselves. Teachers can create their own personal learning networks, unrestricted by geography or their district. We can learn from professional development initiatives in Qatar, student work from Bangkok, and online learning tools from the UK. Of course, we can also collaborate with our colleagues down the hall like always, with new tools to facilitate our collaboration.
But, how we get over the initial hurdle to introduce these tools? I'm convinced that the most effective form of professional development is job-embedded, and provides opportunities for ongoing support and collaboration. This way, teachers who are ready to delve into the web 2.0 world and use tools like wikis and social networking to accelerate their knowledge of 21st century literacy tools can do so, and those who are not ready yet can learn from their peers who are already piloting new strategies at their school.