2009: What’s Changed?

Last week, while waiting at Starbucks to meet my wife for a coffee, I fired up Tweetdeck on my iPhone and flipped through the recent list of Twitter updates. One that caught my interest was from Will Richardson asking “What changed in 2009?”. I read his reflective blog post at Weblogg-ed.com. Great question, great time to reflect and time to jump in with a blog post to respond.

Will specifically asks “So, as a way of taking stock, I’m asking, what’s changed?

I mean really changed in your school? What stories are there of moving wholesale to an inquiry-based curriculum, of real reinvention of assessments, of students participating in global learning networks, learning how to create their own personal networks around their own passions? Or even moving off of paper into a digital reading and writing space? Or moving from a teaching community to a learning community? Or other changes? My sense is that once again, there’s not all that much different today than a year ago.”

I will comment from two perspectives: personally, and from a K-12 system point of view. For me personally, 2009 was an amazing year filled with many projects, a lot of learning and many opportunities. Upon reflection, I consider all of the following to be successes for me:

  • began blogging mid year, still doing it, writing regularly, and having fun doing it
  • embraced Twitter and other social networking tools
  • actively participating in a number of online forums (ISTE, Ning, Classroom 2.0, Ontario Meetup etc.)
  • participating in the Ontario PLP cohort
  • developed a solid personal learning network (PLN)
  • completed a leadership course at the Queens University Business Executive Development Centre
  • continued participation with education committees/organizations including: OSAPAC, COCA, RCAC, OASBO

In the broader K-12 context in my Board, things ARE different than a year ago – maybe not in the ‘wholesale’ way quite yet, but they are in fact different. Specific targets that were set 12-18 months ago are being realized or are at least under way. Some of these successes include:

  • implementing our new shorter technology replacement cycle
  • roll out of wireless with network access control (NAC) is under way
  • convert 40 elementary schools to a new dual boot Mac environment (starting Jan. 2010)
  • mobile learning projects with iPod Touches in the classroom are underway
  • implementing our Library Learning Commons model for better system support
  • significantly improved alignment between Learning Services and IT departments
  • provided greater access to online resources (less content filtering) including access to some social media tools
  • planning new staff development strategies for Sept. 2010 to include social media component
  • more people are ‘involved’ than a year ago, and the thinkers and changers are better connected
  • more teachers and students are using blogs, wikis, media, inquiry based research/learning

What have I learned?

  • I can make a difference
  • I can participate
  • I can help to keep these important conversations going
  • I can initiate
  • educational change takes time
  • maybe we (the big picture we) are not ready (yet) for chaotic change given the variance of teacher understanding and readiness in the areas of technology use and embedding in the curriculum
  • there are indeed systematic approaches that can be taken to engage people and move the agenda forward – and we need to actively keep working on them

A Context for Continuing the Journey

At the end of the day, or school year, or graduation day for our students, I think we fundamentally will arrive in a similar place – we want to graduate students with:

  • certain experiences and character traits in place
  • well developed critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • strong skills in writing and a variety of literacies
  • developed emotional intelligences
  • creativity
  • etc. ( I am not attempting to generate the perfect list here, just make a point)

Maybe we don’t need to revisit/review/change every classroom, teacher and instructional practice. What we can change, in a broader strategic manner with impact, is the journey that happens between enrollment and graduation.We do need to systematically put things in place so that each child that journeys through a system has some guaranteed experiences. These experiences should also include:

  • readiness to live and work in a technology oriented world
  • embedded technology supported learning
  • collaborative online experiences
  • social media use and awareness
  • participate in a culture of sharing
  • digital literacies and digital citizenship

Count me in! This is doable. The question is how do we achieve greater invovlement, provide the right ‘enablers’, keep costs down, change things at the systemic level at a greater rate of change, keep the energy behind sustained change and yet without ‘upending the apple cart’? Personally, I am looking forward to 2010 to keep working on this agenda. When 2011 arrives, I want to look back at 2010 and say that more change has occurred and that I made a difference.

~ Mark

One thought on “2009: What’s Changed?”

  1. Mark,

    What a great post!!

    I believe we can make a difference if we make it easy for teachers and provide comfortable, safe supports for them to try new technologies. Also, we need to get the system and school administrators comfortable with the technology, so they can be leaders in their schools. I will send you more later on your various points, as the more of there are of us that are saying the same things, the faster the change will be. Let’s do it together!


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