What schools do best is create community, they create space for people to just be. We want to provide spaces where all children and adults feel like they have equal and equitable opportunities to learn but more so equal chances to be seen and heard and to belong.
Some children and adults too perhaps, have not yet been able to take ownership of their learning. But even that statement can probably be argued. Whether your 5, 15 or 55, you probably have used the internet in some way shape or form to drive your own learning. That’s online learning at its best.
School systems are looking for ways to replicate the simplest and most basic level of education that is centred around sheer content delivery. I don’t intend to chastise anyone for this approach, but it reflects a rather a limited view of both technology and education; it’s a futile attempt to uphold pre-existing structures of teaching and learning. Online learning, while in existence for decades, is a brand new practice for the majority of classroom teachers. I would venture to guess that far fewer than half of all teachers have dabbled in creating any kind of online or even blended learning environment. There are many unique affordances with learning online but indeed we will recognize the downsides.
- Explore the advantages and disadvantages of learning online
- Understand the power of technology
- Foster community
- Explore joyful learning
- Begin to address issues of equity.
- Give up control and embrace personal learning
- Rethink assessment
- Extend Grace
- Prioritise well-being above all else
This is a similar sentiment put forward by Gary Stager:
So, there is reason to celebrate (briefly), but then you must act! Use this time to remake schooling in a way that’s more humane, creative, meaningful, and learner-centered. This is your moment!
In the absence of compelling models of what’s possible, the forces of darkness will fill the void. Each of us needs to create models of possibility.
Whatever model is proposed, Mal Lee suggests that we need to assume that students will attend a physical space at regular times.
Work on the reality that society will expect the kids to go school, and return home at a set time each day, five days a week, for X days of the year, and break for holidays in the same weeks each year.
AnswerGarden is a new minimalistic brainstorm tool for online brainstorming, real time audience participation and classroom feedback.
Are blogs really that different though?
To be honest, I have been struggling with the idea of ‘maintaining’ of late (although I had never actually thought of it like that.) My current role started life as a ‘transformation coach’. I was going to work with school leaders to identify learning opportunities associated with our technological solution and support them with implementing this. Based on where the project has ebbed and flowed, I have now ended up supporting timetabling and reporting.
A lot of things that I read would say that I should leave, go find something that drives me or something like that. The problem with this is that so much of the ‘innovation’ that occurs in the system that I am in depends on certain foundations around things like timetabling and attendance being in place. It is not the most exciting work, but it is still ‘real’ work. As I recently pondered:
The work that I do has many focuses. Sometimes it is about supporting simple transactions, other times it is about everyday efficiencies. Sometimes it is about helping schools reflect upon particular workflows to ease their workload, other times it is about improving a process, such as the creation of timetables. All of this though is real work that has some sort of impact on student learning in the end.
I am reminded of your questions about ‘revolutions‘ from a few years ago and the belief that sometimes we need to focus on strengths. I sometimes think that the notion of innovation haunts like spectre and that sometimes the best thing we can do is support and encourage each other.
Also on: Read Write Collect
In regards to your balanced approach you maybe interested in Ian Guest’s work exploring Twitter to support professional development. It provides some novel insights and questions.
Knowing that you don’t read my blog, in am intrigued what your collection of ideas looks like in a world without social media? Maybe that is a good place to start?
I’m grateful for the advent of the web and social media by providing me with a voice. I’ve been able to publish many ideas over that last 12 years that previously would have only lived in my head. Through that publishing, I’ve been able to think through some things and had the benefit of others to add their thoughts as well. However, as much as this has democratized knowledge, it has also diluted the importance of expertise. The barriers of the previous publishing world lacked the ability to include all voices but it did help identify expertise. As adults and educators, I think we have to work harder to identify the smart people and allow their ideas to be heard over the din of social media. Expertise is not found in followers but on the quality and evidence of ideas that have proven the test of time.
Schools have not traditionally been asked to care for student’s health beyond a mandatory few classes. This isn’t as exciting as helping kids become entrepreneurs, creating an app, getting a scholarship or even just helping them graduate. Talking about the power and potential of technology is exciting and very palatable. I should know, I’ve done this and continue to get invited to share messages that promote technology as a powerful tool for learning. I’m not going to stop but I have and will continue to embed hard truths and realities about focusing on what really matters.
In your reflections I was taken by your current stance to:
- Talk less.
- Question everything.
- Utilize the right spaces for the right purposes.
This is similar to my own recent reflection to:
- Critically Reflect and Ask Questions
- Learn from and through others
- Engage in new challenges.
Social spaces have changed. They are not what they once were. However, it is disconcerting when we were warned so long ago.
I am off to find a copy of Amusing Ourselves to Death and dig into the past a little bit more.