Why would you?

  • A successful cluster builds a learning community where individuals take responsibility for professional learning and the community facilitates this process.
  • The community provides freedom and empowerment.
  • The community reconnects teachers with the profession.
  • Teachers as reflective practitioners.
  • Keeps everyone informed
  • Essential hub
  • Keeps the PD moving
  • Communication centred and collaborative
  • Place for finding out stuff
  • Anywhere anytime
  • Time saver to find info - reduces workload
  • Do it when it suits you - asynchronous - can manage your workload.
  • Can trawl others' sites to find material for running workshops
  • Centrality of the learner
  • Allows for the development of professional relationships and fellowship.
  • Create an area for people to develop.

How do you?

There are a variety of platforms available - Interact is available free to clusters from priority status through to beyond your contract period. There are others some of which are free and others are user pays.
The community can be the springboard to a range of free online web 2.0 tools that work more effectively than the basic community tools - web 2.0 grows at the exponential rate of change and therefore tends to outstrip the development in one particular platform.
Some platforms are framed around the needs of content management - tend to be more restrictive for collaboration potential but again these components can be linked.
Some would suggest that we need to be aware of the learner dispositions - some will, some won't - but we need in fact to move beyond that view and consider our accountability to our students. As clusters we need to focus on the ways that we can capture the enthusiasm of all learners (and all teachers need to be learners.)
We need to be able to articulate the purpose and needs of the community and work towards ensuring it meets those needs - identify roles of members etc.
Cater to the social requirements of the members - create areas for social networking and getting to know each others - cafe, guest books etc. Provide activities to develop trust and respect.
Build activities that develop positive relationships
Ensure that there is input of knowledge as well as forum and debate - use of thought leaders etc.

Current Use by Clusters

  • Encourage reflective practice - tends to end up with facilitator provides feedback but the aim to have people provide feedback to each other.
  • Accessing of resources and workshop information
  • See Hills Cluster site

Barriers

Solutions

Current stats show that there is no regular use by a large percentage of the membership. Need to develop the culture of sharing - need to have pay off for members.
  • Self registering workshops via Interact. e.g. Bus trips - the only channel to register.
  • Pay off for the teachers - closer to the classroom more likely to be used e.g. collaborative projects, resources, software etc.
  • Quality of facilitation a vital factor - need to spend time getting people comfortable with the environment.
  • Lead teacher workshops - sharing of units of work, journal story activities etc.
  • Email signatures
  • Automatic logins - teach teachers how to set this.
  • Repetition and simplicity
  • Open the community.
  • Make use part of workshops
Rural and network access issues
MoE network upgrades