#TriConf17 Day 5: Creating a Professional Development Hub (Silvia Tolisano)

Session Description here.

Note: many of my sentences in this blog come directly from Silvia’s mouth…so let’s just give a blanket citation to her!



Unigogy: the study of self-directed and self-determined learning (this will be more important for a learner than their teacher knowing a lot of pedagogies)

Folksonomy: a user-generated tagging system of organizing online content

How can we be motivated for yourself- be self-directed in your learning?

The PD hub is a way/place for all your teachers to go so they can practice these new literacies and pedagogies in a safe place.

The PD hub is also a place to document, share, and reflect! Remember that it’s not just an end in itself; the whole point is to be a service for our teachers teaching/learning and ultimately for our students learning.

We spent some time talking about the challenges that can arise when trying to introduce a PD hub. Challenges include creating time/space, the fact that technology can be intimidating for some teachers, feeling like “one more thing”, getting people to participate without making it a requirement, etc.

From Silvia: The best success rate for getting a whole school on year is the head of school saying “this is the expectation, and you will have the support, and you will have one year to figure this out. After that, you make a decision, and there’s the door.” The second strategy that works is that you have to give them time. It cannot feel like it’s one more thing to do. Teachers will not see the value for their own learning if it feels like it’s one more thing to do. The third thing is to figure out what you will take away that this will replace. For example, some schools have taken away traditional evaluation with teacher-led evaluation, using their contributions to the learning hub as documentation.

Don’t underestimate the value of institutional memory! (especially in international schools with so much turnover)

Think about a PD hub (or even a student’s portfolio) as leaving a legacy. Having a hub promotes institutional memory and can prevent a school from re-inventing the wheel every time. How can we move the school forward? Don’t get stuck redoing the same thing over and over because of teacher/admin turnover.

We used flipgrid to do some reflection and thinking about the idea of a PD hub. I was extremely excited about this because I have been wanting to try the app for a while and just haven’t had the time. Now I know why it’s trending so much- it’s so awesome!! Great idea for PD reflections- could be such a fun way to capture learning for different PD experiences!

The fear of sharing:

  • If I share, people will think I’m boasting.
  • If I share, people will judge me.
  • If I share, I will get in trouble.

Steps to an online hub:

  1. Choose platform (remember to make the distinction between platform and tool. And when you choose the platform, make sure it allows for as many tools to be embedded as possible)
  2. Build content (crowdsource!)
    1. flipgrid
    2. goosechase
    3. blogs
    4. tweets
    5. guest posts
  3. Set expectations
  4. Model the use (if admins aren’t on the platform modeling its use, it will fizzle out!)
  5. Support basic tech skills (make sure it’s not open ended- if you are providing support and people still aren’t learning, that’s a problem. They have to take responsibility for knowing; you can’t provide tech support until the end of their lives)
  6. Make learning visible (share share share!)

New app to try: Clips (iOS app that automatically adds subtitles to a video that you record of yourself)


Document, document, document!

Document ideas as they happen (twitter, etc.), document the learning, successes, failures, best practice, brainstorming, etc.

And once you document it, share it! Help others learn from us, even those whom we’ve never met.

Documentation OF learning:

  • Make the doing visible
  • Snapshot artifacts (display)

Documentation FOR learning:

  • Make the thinking visible
  • Explanation, interpretationg of artifacts

Documentation AS learning: 

  • Make the learning visible
  • curation decision making for capturing and explaining

Why document? It makes your thinking and learning visible, helps you reflect, and improves metacognition. We don’t learn from experiences; we learn from reflecting on experiences.


Make your platform open to feedback! Don’t turn comments feature off! And if you are an admin, give fast feedback. The learner wants timely feedback. Comment comment comment!

It’s so hard to explain until you have tried it and experienced it. Twitter comments and retweets are all feedback.

Part of the expectation about feedback is that you need to give quality comments! You can’t just say “great!” “awesome!”

Make your feedback/comments add value to the author’s content. Help contribute to his/her learning. It’s a two-way street.


  • Upload documentation of external training to the hub.
  • Do a goosechase scavenger hunt to get people familiar with your hub. Could even be a semester-long scavenger hunt.
  • Use flipgrid for PD reflections.
  • Use flipgrid for CLAS testimonials.
  • Figure out how to create a hub with user-generated tagging system. Use members to help archive and curate resources and documentation.
  • Need to start doing more research on sketchnoting!

Embedded tweets because I took a lot of notes there:









Thanks for a great session, Silvia!!

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