Relationships and Technology

We are rapidly moving forward with a vision to augment our face to face professional learning opportunities for teachers and administrators. The goal is to provide learning opportunities in multiple formats including podcasts, webinars, videoconferencing, multimedia videos, etc…

Our staff has been receptive, but there is a reluctance, maybe it is a sense of loss. Hord & Hall indicate grief is often mistaken for resistance. Working alone at your computer to facilitate a webinar or podcast can seem sterile – no immediate feedback, no eye contact or body language to help you gauge audience reaction. 

It has given me pause to think about the role of technology and whether or not it is taking away from relationship building which is essential to our role as educational consultants at a regional service agency. As I was contemplating, I received a few emails in response to a webinar I facilitated:

Reactions from participants following webinar 3

“On a personal note, I must share that out of ALL the webinars I have attended over the past four years, your webinar was the most organized and interactive.  You did a wonderful job keeping the pace of the presentation, interacting with us, and answering questions.  You definitely have your planning nailed down.  Fantastic job Kelly!”  - Assistant Superintendent

“I was sold on Reading Apprenticeship at the webinar.  It answered my questions and addressed the hesitations I had.  I have approval from the one of our HS buildings and I am going to get the other building's thoughts today. I will then meet with teachers to get names of interested teachers. I am still planning for the 25th date.  Thank you, the webinar was fantastic.  I needed the information that was provided there in that type of forum.  - Heidi, Social Studies and Literacy Supervisor

“Great webinar!!!  Thanks so much for presenting the material again.” - Julie, Director of Education

I was extremely touched that folks reached out to me in this way, unprompted. Some of these folks I have never met, but have made a connection. Clearly technology can help us build and sustain relationships, but we have to be prepared for a delay in the feedback loop. In the midst of publishing a podcast or during a live webinar, we may not be able to sense our impact, but it does not mean it is not there…

Comments

Lindsey said…
I am a huge supporter of the utilization of technology. As a webinar moderator, I often work with our staff who may be new to using the technology. On their first go-round it is usually a nerve-wracking experience, until it's over and they say wow, i think i'll do that again. Technology is no longer just people talking back and forth at different locations...it is interactive, fosters group work and builds relationships. I hope that we will be utilizing it more in the future to increase participation and decrease costs for schools.
Ruth Schoenbach said…
Kelly,
This is a really interesting question: how does technology ALTER the ways we relate around professional learning? What are the new things we are able to do that we couldn't before? What is lost (and grieved)?

I learn a lot from you about the "just do it" mentality. Or as they say in the engineering and/or software worlds--"rapid prototyping"
Kelly Pauling said…
Thanks for the comments. No one likes feeling awkward or uncertain, but truly that is where our most significant learning takes place... as we experiment and try new things. If we can understand the new and appreciate tradition, we can have the BEST of both.

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