Tuesday, February 4, 2014

PD doesn't just stand for Professional Development - at ASB it also stands for PlayDate!

Today the elementary campus of ASB hosted its first PlayDate.  For those unfamiliar with this term it stands for People Learning and Asking Y:  Digital Age Teacher Exploration (find out more about PlayDates here).   ASB's PD 3.0 R&D Task Force is charged with developing a new model of Professional Growth and Development for schools in the future.  We decided to prototype PlayDates as one form of PD that we can incorporate into a new PD model as we wanted something that feels less like work and more like play.

The idea of a PlayDate is to promote educators gathering together to explore and play with technology tools.  Many people are curious about new tools and would like to have the time to spend with colleagues to explore the tool with a view to using it with students to take learning to a new level.  Last week we sent out a survey to find out what tools teachers and TAs are interested in knowing more about.  We came up with 8 different tools or types of technologies and found 8 volunteers to facilitate the learning spaces.  The participants were free to choose where to go and when to move between the spaces.  They were also able to go to a break-out space with colleagues if the 8 options offered didn't meet their needs.  We encouraged all participants to Tweet out what they were learning so that everyone could see what was happening in the different spaces and so that they could move easily between things that seemed interesting to them.  At the end we offered a short survey to gauge responses to this new type of PD.

I could hardly wait to get home and look at the feedback - and when I read it, it really blew me away! 98% responded that they had learned something new and 96% said that they want to explore another tool that they did not have time for this afternoon and they know where to find the resources to go about doing this.   About 40% of our faculty said that after this session they are confident to use at least one app or tool that they have never used before.  74% said it was more engaging than most other PD experiences and 26% said it was the most engaging PD format they have ever experienced.  Yes, you read that correctly - add the 2 percentages together and you will find that everyone found it one of the most engaging PD experiences that they have ever had!  Wow!

Most amazing of all was that many of the responses were asking for more - as there are many more tools they want to explore with their colleagues in a safe and supporting environment.  Over and over again I heard the comment "Please do it again" and "When is the next one?"  How often do you hear this coming away from a faculty meeting or a PD day?  PlayDates for us were a real success - I would definitely encourage other schools to give them a try.


  1. Thanks for sharing Maggie. Going to explore this idea :-)

  2. Hi Mark, thanks for your comment. Here's a link about hosting your own PlayDate that you might like to explore: https://sites.google.com/site/playdatechicago13/diy-playdate-kit
    All the best,