Training 2.0: Professional Conversations through Social Media

Hotel Sindoor was the venue for the first-ever teacher training event that I attended, some time in 1994. I had just started teaching, right out of high school in conventional terms (after Intermediate college in Nepal).

Among other things, the trainers covered “how to use the blackboard effectively”: 1) make sure that students can see what you are writing while you are writing, 2) speak the words as you write, 3) pause and teach instead of continuing for long stretches, 4) ….

That training made me think for the first time that teachers are not people who have completed learning! The fact that a seemingly straightforward act like writing on the chalk board had so much to learn about inspired me to go to more and more training events in the years to come. I have since tried not to miss actual training sessions, orientations, norming sessions, guest lectures, brown bag discussions, emergency meetings, reviews, etc. Indeed, since the training at Hotel Sindoor in 1994, I have always considered any part of department meetings, hallway conversations, email exchanges, difficult class periods, students facing or posing special challenges . . . lunch/dinner or party conversation that bring up issues of teaching as a “teaching training,” for continued professional development. I take the “consider as training” view because the explicitly “training” events are few and far between when I consider how much more I have to know than just writing on the chalkboard, when I consider how dramatically the variety of students and variety of courses have expanded in my teaching career. 

Let me take back the words “have to” from the last sentence: I don’t have to know more than what I already know in order to keep my job. There is something else that inspires me to keep learning. I can “attend” training virtually, asynchronously, meet colleagues literally around the world . . . taking advantage of the professional footprints of numberless other dedicated teachers. I can grow by giving back to the community without leaving my home and my office. I’m grateful to professional colleagues who are willing to “attend” Training 2.0.

Thanks especially to web 2.0, twenty years since my first teaching training, I am grateful that I can “attend” many types of training through the convenience of professional social media such as blogs (I cannot say how much I learn by quietly finding and reading blogs written by fellow scholars in my field and beyond; I probably read a thousand blog entries a year). I just don’t “listen” to other colleagues’ ideas, I also respond to their ideas (though I am guilty of not doing so as often as I could and should). Here is the blog that I have been most actively engaged in over the past five plus years (I’ve written the power of community blogging as a form of “scholarly publication” here).

In fact, even social media platforms with less professional prestige or provenance (such as Facebook) also serve as great venues for professional discussions–or rational what is often described as “personal/professional learning network” (as I discuss in this blog post). Of course, this new, virtual form of “training” does not have the power and advantages of in-person meetings and discussions; to suggest that the virtual can be a replacement would be to get too hi on technology and LOL on the understanding of professional life and relationship. Of course, this is not to suggest that technological can or should replace face-to-face interactions (or that Twitter “summits” are can take the place of going to conferences!). But unlike in web design (though perhaps even there), in the professional world, Training 2.0 adds a great deal to formal, in-person training (of which, I am having very few these days, actually).

What are your favorite instances of Training 2.0?

 

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4 Comments

  1. This seems like a beginning of a great conversation. The passion for learning stemming out of deep insight and realization that “teachers are not people who have completed learning” should make one a great teacher indeed. What an epiphany, what an of inspiration… ! A sheer pleasure to read.

  2. Thank you, dear friend. The idea that I am trying to express in this post is a very deeply inspiring one, but your kind words are even more inspiring. This is the power of the network!

  3. hey Shyam, I’ve had this page open for a couple of days but only just read it right after our twitter chat (I’m not sure why you call it summit 😉 we have been going to different twitter events, I guess!) – but I really enjoyed it and obviously like you I relish the opportunities for online professional development – it’s like you said, not to replace f2f, it is something different from f2f. Not the poor second cousin, but a completely different thing, I thought. I was just thinking about this today and I’ll blog about it sometime soon.. what is it that makes people like us thrive on these online opportunities for interaction even though we have full personal and professional lives? People often ask “when do you have time for all this?” and “don’t you have a life?” – and we both know the answer to that question – we don’t sleep :o)) haha

  4. Didn’t have much to say when I first read your comment, Maha. (Thank you as well, Uttam). But I think you are right that our professional development through social media is not a “poor second cousin” but an essential part of the big picture. I guess whenever I talk critically about technology, I am responding to all the hype mongers rather than the technologies themselves– which, in their own ways, are a blessings in our professional lives. Indeed, educators across vast distances like you and me (and also those who part after working together for years/decades, like many of my colleagues in Nepal) wouldn’t be able to gain so much from professional networking without these wonderful mediums.

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