CRAWL – WALK – RUN

by Jean Tower


A reasonable professional development strategy is one that begins with a CRAWL – a task that provides easy entry into the topic or concept being taught. Participants should very quickly reap the benefits of some early successes. This follows how well designed video games work – it is easy to enter the game and players achieve some simple and early successes.

The second phase – WALK – is one in which expectations are raised and participants challenge themselves to master more complex concepts and skills. They begin to make connections more quickly between the skills they are learning and the educational outcomes made possible by applying these skills to teaching and learning. In the video game analogy, they have mastered many of the game moves and have progressed up a couple of levels. They are moving through the virtual world more quickly and are feeling more comfortable navigating the game landscape.

The third phase – RUN – is marked by participants taking what they have learned and running with it. They have the confidence to adapt their new skills to meet their style and goals, and further, to begin to innovate both in their use of technology as well as in their actual lessons and assignments. If this were a video game, they would be getting closer to saving the Princess and would be munching stars and power boosters and easily defeating the power draining obstacles the game puts in their path. They would have learned more moves and could switch between the basic game moves and the trickier ones at will.

The professional development area I want to focus on with educators in my school district this year is online communication and collaboration. My vision includes teachers and administrators confidently using listserves, blogs, wikis, and “cloud” document sharing to teach, learn, communicate, and collaborate.

What I am struggling with is applying the CRAWL – WALK – RUN strategy to this effort and envisioning the CRAWL stage. What can we expect in CRAWL? Is it simply reading blogs and commenting? If so, what are those early successes? What impels people forward to WALK?

In the WALK phase, administrators might replace current newsletters and announcements previously done on paper and on web pages with a blog. The wins are easy to foresee – instant communication with many, a sense of personal accomplishment, and positive community feedback. One of many possible β€œwin” scenarios for educators would be participating with students in an online environment (Moodle or a wiki or a blog) and the early successes, again, are easy to imagine.

As I plan professional development activities for the coming year, it would be so helpful to hear from other educators. I welcome advice on how to frame that CRAWL or introductory phase. I especially am interested in hearing from voices of experience. If you have accomplished this in your district how did you begin and what were the intrinsic rewards for those early adopters?

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