The 2015 WRDSB learning carousel day focused on Innovative Change was a great day of learning and connecting for me. I was impressed with the quality and quantity of the sharing sessions and loved the energy in the room. As a reflection, I wanted to share a few things that resonated with me by bringing together ideas from two conversations.
Each year, we have been purposeful about initiating targeted new projects to model change, inform our collective practice and leverage opportunities to share and role model. Some of our projects from the last few years are captured in this whiteboard ‘clip’.
Along this journey, we have learned some important items or “breadcrumbs” as I like to call them, that should be applied to new projects and scaling up strategies as we move our innovative change agenda forward.
Some of our breadcrumbs include:
learning IS messy. We need to accept this and continue to play in this space.
co-learning between teachers, and teachers & students is a really important element. It is OK to fail.
shifting writing from paper to digital spaces makes a difference
student voice and choice are motivators in the learning process
using technology as an enabler creates new possibilities to be explored in the context of the C’s and the SAMR model. Think about boundless and joyful learning.
In my view, as we look at a path forward, each of us has to own our piece of the collective through our own actions. I like the question, what is your next? Creating a culture where:
conversations of change and identifying entry points are ongoing and natural
we celebrate small steps forward with joy and encouragement
the process of nudge, encourage, give/have permission and expect is openly explored
I experienced a wonderful virtual learning opportunity this week with some fantastic educators from ADSB. Donna Fry, who was leading the learning sessions on site, invited me to provide a kick off presentation to their day. My task was to ignite some change thinking by linking the areas of technology enabled learning, technology change and bringing collaboration into eLearning.
I loved the idea of doing a virtual keynote – what a perfect way to “walk the talk” in terms of connected learning and modelling what we need our students to do.
While there are a variety of tools one could use for this type of activity, we settled on Google Hangouts (GHO) for our session.
Of course, the technology all worked flawlessly <big grin!> – a good demonstration of technology creating a natural flow of sharing.
I really enjoyed being able to participate in a timed table talk opportunity following my presentation as Donna kindly relocated me from the “big screen” to the table.
I was certainly struck by the power of this. We collectively decided that this was a virtual F2F learning session.
Linking back to the theme of the day and my task with the opening kick off, I could envision a day when virtual F2F learning opportunities are normalized into learning environments. I look forward to learning with these educators as they develop their connecting and collaborating strategies.
Learn more about the background of the Futures Forum Project.
The other day I happened to catch a segment of The Current CBC broadcast as I was driving between school appointments. The topic was big data based the book Dataclysm, which certainly captivated my interest for a variety of reasons.
Image from Amazon.com
I happened to tune in just at the moment the discussion was focused on analyzing data written in social media, Twitter in this case. While many view social media communications as somewhat inane, an in depth analysis reveals some interesting facts.
writing tends to be more sophisticated
word length is 20% longer
lexical density , the proportion of meaning carrying words, is higher than in many other forms of writing (email, magazines etc. – perhaps opposite to what you would think)
with a limitation on the number of characters per message or post, 140 in this case, people learn to improve word choices
in turn, this improves editing skills
In the interview, Christian commented that this type of analysis can and has been repeated. This is not an isolated ‘one time’ look at this area.
When one considers the writing benefits summarized here, I believe there is a strong case to incorporate the social media writing medium in the school system. Of course there are natural connections to digital citizenship, engagement, real world audiences etc.
As a classroom educator, if you are already doing this, keep going! If not, consider giving it a try with an age appropriate system, a collaborative document with simulated limits or even offline.
Listen to the CBC Podcast with Christian Rudder on Dataclysm
Setting aside the debate of whether “digital citizenship” should just be “citizenship”, I think there continues to be a need for focus on the digital aspect of citizenship as people learn the in and outs of our rapidly evolving digital world.
I enjoyed an opportunity to have an in depth conversation with the WRDSB student senate and trustee Kathi Smith last night on this very topic. The discussion was lively, and a number of important points were made through the evening.
In the end, we landed on digital citizenship (or D.C. as we ended up abbreviating it):
is not a “check box” or single event
be embraced and lived
must be relevant
role modelled by staff and students
experienced with real life tools and contexts
There was agreement that action is needed to continue to raise awareness among students in terms of managing your digital profile, understanding what online information about you is actually ‘out there’ and understanding the impact of your choices and actions.
I look forward to meeting with next year’s senate members to explore options to bring the ideas and action items identified into play.
On the drive home, I was wondering what approaches to teaching, coaching, mentoring and role modelling digital citizenship would look like if you applied the 4 stages of the SAMR model. Hmmm.
There it is: Digital Citizenship meets the SAMR model.
What do you think this might look like? Wonder with me and share your ideas.
I enjoyed my recent opportunity to present a session on ever changing EdTech world in K12 education at EOIT2014. Three points from the various conversations over the day captured my attention.
Limestone DSB, CIO Wayne Toms described how becoming active on Twitter has “changed his approach to PD forever”. He emphasized the importance of having access to a stream of current information and thinking to shape one’s perspective underscoring the importance of connected learning.
If fact, this coming weekend, two Ontario based EdCamps are happening on May 10th as per the “Tweet captures” below. Connected learners can participate by following #edcampsault and #edcampisland.
IT leaders Ron Plaizier and James Proulx openly discussed the challenges of “all the moving pieces” – technology changing at a rate much faster than classroom practices shift and support models can be adapted. There are no easy answers. The best strategy is to bring people together for conversation and time to play in this “change space”. Agreed!
The third conversation focused on a notion I would call the software “power” gap – the difference in capability when comparing a desktop application version against the corresponding web version. This power gap differential exists in many applications. In my view, the critical piece of this puzzle is at the intersection of desktop > mobile, local > cloud and minimal NEEDed functionality vs extra features. One “crystal ball” question is how long might it take to reach the ideal cloud based offering of a particular application?
I also wanted to share of few highlights from the back channel related to “What is the most important aspect of your work?”
The SAMR model has taken the technology enabled learning world by storm. Based on long term thorough research the model offers a new strategy to look at the relationship of technology and learning. The model describes four stages of using technology to support student learning as summarized in the chart below.
Let me say up front that I am a big believer in the SAMR research and methodology. You can read my other SAMR related blog posts here. However, I am concerned about the circulation of SAMR charts that slot apps and web tools to a stage on the SAMR chart.
The SAMR model is based on the notion of using technology to support learning in ways to deepen learning through opportunities not previously possible – that is, a change in practice. To my way of thinking, the SAMR framework needs to be internalized in one’s thinking so that you independently examine your lesson, practice, approach etc. It is NOT about just picking an app from the ‘R’ level and assuming “that is it”.
I think SAMR is a lens, a way of thinking about self improvement. It is a journey of reflection and getting to that better technology enabled learning place of practice consistently. As learning contexts change, reflection through the SAMR lens is necessary to keep one’s practice sharp.
Technology is changing at a torrid pace. New web based tools and apps are born every minute. Each choice of technology, app and use MUST factor in the context of the learning at hand and the needs of the students. Recognize that a learning moment is simply that – a moment in time, and worthy of professional reflection. Tomorrow, there will be new hardware, new apps and new web tools. The SAMR model will see us through these changes by helping us focus on best practice, reflection and a moving through a personal journey. Sometimes, being at an ‘S’ level might be just the right place to be – part of the journey.
Take the SAMR challenge today. Become familiar with the model and how it relates to learning and excellent instructional practice. Examine new possibilities for technology enabled learning. Challenge yourself. Reflect. Share what you experience and learn. Internalize it – make SAMR part of who you are!
After 2 days of being immersed in conversation about technology enabled learning, focusing on using technology to get to deeper learning, and engage the relationship aspect of the possibilities with George Couros, I was thrilled to hear how WRDSB teacher Ryan Wettlaufer is using Google Hangouts with his students.
To me, this is a perfect example of the SAMR model. Ryan has thoughtfully and skillfully created real life opportunities for his students by leveraging his personal learning network (PLN) giving his French language program a whole new meaning. I was able to connect with Ryan for an interview via Google Hangouts. Learn about Ryan’s insights in our interview.
Thank you Ryan for taking time to share your leadership and best practices, and a perfect topic for Connected Educators month.