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Collaboration Tools for Collaborative Planning, Development, and Evaluation

Collaboration Tools for Collaborative Planning, Development, and Evaluation


In this lesson, students evaluate various tools designed for the collaborative development, planning and evaluation of collaborative professional development plans.

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Source: Globe, Clker,; Stick Figure, Clker,; Twitter, Pixabay,; Team, Pixabay,; Lightbulb, Pixabay,; Learning Sign, Pixabay,; Blog, Pixabay,; Tree, Pixabay,; Hangouts,; Slides,; Google Talk,; Google Scholar,; instaGrok,; Thinglink,

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Hello there and welcome. We are teaching in an era where there are no lack of tools to support our work. In this lesson, we'll evaluate various tools that can be specifically used to develop, plan, and evaluate collaborative professional growth plans. Let's begin.

Most educators recognize the important role that collaboration plays in our profession. However, most educators will also tell you that the biggest obstacle to collaborating consistently and with fidelity is finding the time to meet. We are going to focus on some simple tools and applications that can help alleviate this problem and allow teachers to collaborate at any time from virtually any place.

In this lesson, we'll look at them with an eye towards enhancing collaborative professional growth and development, implementation, and monitoring. Furthermore, the examples I share will be sorted into categories based on the four C's of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. I'll begin each category by making a statement, followed by a list of tools that speak to the C along with examples of how they can be used to support collaborative professional development. Let's begin.

Collaboration. Technology allows teachers to collaborate in real time across settings. In my opinion, the ability to work synchronously or asynchronously on documents and presentations has been a game changer in our profession. Tools like Google Hangout, Skype, and FaceTime make it possible to collaborate any time and from any location.

Features like screen sharing also could be helpful in working on professional growth with your team. With Google Docs and Google Slides, colleagues can create and edit documents with one another in real time. Changes made are also logged so that you can see what members have done on their own time. And tools like can be used by a district or by a collaborative team to help track and monitor the action steps of the professional growth plan.

I remember using Google Hangout for the first time. It was kind of like getting a cellphone for the first time and just calling anyone because the thought of making a phone call without a cord was pretty unbelievable. Yes, I realize I'm dating myself by telling you that.

However, now Google Hangout has become quite routine and I use it both personally and professionally. I even interviewed a potential teaching candidate using Google Hangout. Another example of how I've used Google Hangout has been when meeting with colleagues from other districts to plan conferences. Although it was always nice to see them in person, the hours of driving and settling on a location to meet and work was very inconvenient.

Google also offers a presentation tool called Slides. As administrators, we are often asked to give presentations regarding updates to our school improvement plan and report data. A common practice has been that the twelve or so administrators build it collaboratively over time, each adding pieces until it's complete.

Communication. Technology offers opportunities to communicate any time, anywhere. In our personal lives, it is now the norm to take advantage of the ability to do this. We are no longer confined to phone calls and emails alone as our means of communication, and we are now utilizing these tools professionally, as well is to help us grow our practice.

For example, Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media help us connect and learn with professionals around the world. Instant messenger, Box, and as mentioned earlier, video conferencing, make it a breeze to connect with others from practically any device. Chat features and docs, Google Phone, text features, and VoiceThread are also other ways to keep the professional dialogue going on a schedule that works for you.

Twitter for education has had a huge impact on me professionally. A few years ago, I included it as one of my professional development goals, and I'm so glad I did. I have been able to connect with educators around the world and gather resources and information from them to help me advance my practice. A specific example was how I connected with a teacher across the country was experienced in passion-based learning. I picked her brain and she helped me get the practice started in my school.

Google Chat is another tool that is great when it comes to communicating with the members of your team. For instance, you can comment on the goals of your plan, update, and make changes any time you want with them.

Critical thinking. Technology offers resources needed to solve problems. When developing collaborative improvement or growth plans, it's important to look for research-based evidence to support your work and to help you solve problems. Fortunately, we now have access to all that information at our fingertips. I urge you to check out some of these incredible tools, like Google Scholar, InstaGrock, advanced search, Boolean tools, coding, analytics, GapMinder, Wolfram Alpha. These are all ways to find whatever you're looking for that can help you move forward in your quest for professional growth.

If you wanted to cite any kind of search as part of your growth plan, a simple Google search will not help. Try Google Scholar. It searches exclusively for articles, reports, and survey results that have been published. It's a tool that's also helped me whenever I'm taking a graduate course and I'm working on a project.

InstaGrok is another tool that can help you conduct quality research that you can use as part of your professional growth plan. InstaGrok creates a concept map that helps to sort your main topic into smaller ones. For example, a search for formative assessments produces the following results and videos, making it easy to find exactly what you need to improve your plan.

Creativity. Technology offers the opportunity to create and publish in new and innovative ways. Not that there's anything wrong with the piece of chart paper or a tri-fold board, but there are some pretty amazing ways to publish and share the work that you're doing in regards to your professional growth plan that will be engaging, everlasting, interesting, and just fun. Some examples include blogs, vlogs, digital storytelling, Prezi, ThingLinks, websites, vines, and wikis. These are all great ways to consolidate and share your learning. Let's look at how you might use a couple of these.

Writing and reading blogs is a great way to collect information and reflect on your own learning. There are so many educational blogs to choose from. I'm certain someone has blogged about whatever your professional growth plan is. And if not, maybe you can. Blogs make all our learning transparent and transferable to one another in a creative way.

ThingLinks are also a creative and clever tool you can use to both gather and share information. You start with an image and add live links related to image all around it. I know a reading specialist that created a ThingLink to document the work he did during a summer reading program and was then able to include it as part of his professional growth plan.

To recap, this lesson was all about the four C's-- collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity-- And some of the amazing tools available that can help us to engage our students and ourselves in learning, growing, and excelling in the 21st century.

Here's today's food for thought. Choose some of the tools listed that you've never heard of before and explore their use. You could also explore by checking out the additional resources section included with this video. There you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

Thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Collaboration Tools for Collaborative Planning, Development, and Evaluation"

(00:00-00:16) Intro

(00:17-01:11) Supporting Collaborative PD

(01:12-02:56) Collaboration

(02:57-04:22) Communication

(04:23-05:40) Critical Thinking

(05:41-06:55) Creativity

(06:56-07:30) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Using Google Hangouts for Teacher Development

This Edutopia article offers advice on how to use Hangouts as a collaborative professional development tool.

Making Learning a Collaborative Process With Skype 

In this article, you will learn how to use Skype for collaborative professional learning.