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Friday, December 23, 2011

Discussing Discussions

As an old dog, always looking for a new trick, technology has taken on a large role in my professional development.  Beyond the faculty room and my colleagues, workshops, blogs, classroom, and webinars, this year I have discovered the discussion group to be one of the most valuable tools in my professional development tool box.  While I shied away from being involved in the original discussion groups on listservs, email groups that focused on one subject area, I have discovered that there are many online discussion groups full of great educators with all kinds of expertise, just waiting to give you advice and support at the click of the mouse.   Most recently, educators in the Teaching Writing Forum on the English Companion Ning had a great discussion centered on Problem Based Research.  All it took was a simple question – Have you done this?  How does it work? - to let the learning begin.  The input on this conversation ranged from great idea starters, mechanics, critical thinking strategies, to assessment.  Beyond the discussion forum, groups form around common interests and you can sort them by most active, etc.  What a great way to share ideas and resources!  In this community alone, there are 46 groups ranging from “Free to Educators” to “Collaborative Projects.”   Some of the other communities where I have found supportive, creative, active, and practical groups are the ISTE Community Ning,, and LinkedIn.   Check them out!  Find a group and get in on the action.  You will find the feedback and creativity of these collaborative groups to be invaluable in professional growth as you do not have to reinvent the wheel.  Why not take advantage of the free advice of your colleagues and share some of your own?  Hmmmm...maybe I should start a discussion group on discussion groups!  What's your favorite?

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