At the beginning of the year, I set up a Google Site to replace our old staff intranet. The site has served its purpose well- a landing page which provides quick access to the most necessary links for staff at my school. At the time, I thought it would be a good idea to add some pages to document, share, discuss and reflect on the professional learning we undertake as a staff each week. I still think this is a good idea…but it hasn’t happened, and I definitely have not facilitated it well. As you can see from the screen shots below the pages have just become stagnant, and some were empty! As a result, they serve no purpose at all for developing and sharing professional learning amongst staff.
This space is in need of some thinking on the design as it is currently serving no function for learning at all! Temple (2010) explains that design shapes ideas into practical solutions for users. The process of design converts an idea into form (Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Hornsby, 2012). I think I had a good idea when I put this in place, but it is obvious that my idea has not been successful, and it the current form it is not helping the learning of anyone.
The important take away for me during this task was connecting the concept of problem-solving to design- a natural and ubiquitous activity (Razzouk & Shute, 2012). For me, this meant that I could be (a little) more logical and enquiring than what I originally perceived as ‘design’. Razzouk & Shute (2012) describe design thinking as the analytic and creative process that one engages in to create new opportunities, experiment, prototype, attain feedback and redesign. With this design thinking process in mind, I felt a little more at ease with the task.
I defined the problem space-
Thinking like a designer requires inspiration, being inspired to change up this space was easy! In my research from #INF530, I looked into social learning and the use of social media and online environments to create new learning opportunities and experiences. Knowing the value of this type of learning and how online tools and spaces can have a direct impact on developing employee learning potential, building communities, developing a positive learning culture and growing collective intelligence (Bingham & Conner, 2010), I knew that the changes to the current professional learning space could engage staff in a social element. I decided to come up with a generative topic title as discussed by Ford (2013).
Once this was decided, I started thinking about solutions and jotted them down. As soon as I did this, my thinking automatically turned to ‘but’ statements. But…I don’t have time to spend hours designing a new site, but…staff already have a lot on their plates, but…it is hard to encourage some staff to talk about their learning, but…I am not a designer, this subject hurts my brain, but…and so it continued.
I persevered and started thinking of a few ideas. I put my solution ideas on a pink Post-It and a couple of thoughts (positive or negative) on a yellow Post-It, then I left it alone and came back to it later. I needed to think aloud and ended up chatting to some staff about it.
After chatting to a few staff members, I decided to go with option three. Even though it would most likely be a completely different tool to a Google Site. It meant that my time was freed up, I didn’t have to spend much time creating something from scratch, staff could sign up using their existing school email, it is private- staff are not required to sign up to Google+ and they know it is a network for our school staff only. After some research into the right tool for the job, I decided on Yammer.
I have already begun to set up some groups to share resources and reflect on professional learning- but at this stage I don’t want to overload it. I just want staff to get in and have a look and get a’feel’ for the space. The design of Yammer is similar to other social networking tools so I think that will enable ease of use- especially for reluctant staff.
I emailed staff:
I am hoping that this new virtual space for teachers will enable them to recognise that the idea of social learning is not something that is considered an ‘add-on’ or an extra. I hope that over time, as staff engage with each other and their ongoing professional learning in this online space, they develop a greater depth of knowledge, build on their insights and reflect on and interpret information (Bingham and Conner, 2010).
So as it stands the Google Site for our staff landing page is still there, I just deleted the ‘professional learning’ pages and added a link to our Yammer on the front page. I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out and if the changes I have made do in fact impact on the learning.
Comments to other student blogs-