reflectiveteacher2014

reflectively assessing my professional goals


Obstruction FOI practice may be very prudent

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/03/13/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-childs-privacy-rights/
I’ve been studying the topic of digital citizenship and student privacy rights rather intently of late because I’ve been trying to develop a course of action and teacher’s guide for student blogging. It’s all part of my grow plans but it stems from a continuum do Ed Tech initiatives in SD23, my role as a teacher-librarian and supporter of student technology initiatives. Just as Audrey Watters outlined so nicely, Diane Ravitch recently blogged about the growing concern of student privacy in the USA.

PRIVACYPrivacy and protection is critical and BCs FOIPPA laws provide clear and maybe oppressive boundaries yet we know there is a large digital elephant in the education room. It appears as if the rapid corporatization and Chartering in the US, which has given rise to massive information sharing by Pearson, Google et al, may have started an ugly precedent that will not be easy to roll back. In that front, we in BC should be happy about the conservative pace we’ve connected our children at school. Keeping strings attached to our FOI may be very prudent even if it appears obstructionist at times.

We need to be very vigilant about who and what genie we let out of the bottle…. protecting student content of all kinds, not just demographics or achievement, is a prudent but also very professional essential aspect of instructional design. – Al Smith , Kelowna

“What lies ahead for student privacy when private companies, government agencies, and a wide range of researchers have greater access to student data and information? I mentioned earlier the “business of education.” …. Business is booming and groups like CCSSO are benefiting. Technology startups aimed at K-12 schools attracted more than $425 million in venture capital last year.” ( DianeRavitch.net)

In 2008 and 2011, amendments to FERPA gave third parties, including private companies, increased access to student data. It is significant that in 2008, the amendments to FERPA expanded the definitions of “school officials” who have access to student data to include “contractors, consultants, volunteers, and other parties to whom an educational agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions it would otherwise use employees to perform.” This change has the effect of increasing the market for student data.

For example, the amendments give companies like Google and Parchment access to education records and other private student information. Students are paying the cost to use Google’s “free” servers by providing access to their sensitive data and communications.

The 2011 amendments allow the release of student records for non-academic purposes and undermine parental consent provisions. The changes also promote the public use of student IDs that enable access to private educational records.

These amendments are critical to supporting initiatives like Common Core that depend on collection of student data to monitor implementation and measure success. Schools across the country will contract with third-party vendors to provide products, programs, and services in order to meet the Common Core requirements — and government agencies and researchers will be mining student information for studies and databases. The FERPA amendments are paving the way toward greater accessibility to student data while providing no meaningful sanctions or protections against breaches of student privacy. As amended, FERPA will loosen privacy protections while helping to promote the business of education. ( DianeRavitch.net)


Has 3Rs literacy expired? CEET asks us in Moodle meeting…

It’s next week’s #ETMOOC topic but I just started reading the introduction today and the opening backgrounder is a thoughtful reflection. What I found illuminating is the reference, despite pop media teeth gnashing, is that our schooling system has in fact been very successful. I think our educators have adapted to social and technological change with remarkable maturity, calmness and skill. Despite being harassed in the media almost daily as a failure( which I belief to be social anxiety response to rapid change) educators are developing skills and exploring initiatives with our kids well-being in their hearts. Educators are tackling obstacles parents, corporations, institutions, and governments are struggling to find solutions.

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FROM #CEETOPEN Moodle meet.
http://moodlemeets.learnnowbc.ca/mod/assignment/view.php?id=1482

Smack in the middle of a conversation with a colleague it occured to me with a flush of embarrassment that all my critiques of contemporary education have been entirely misplaced; not so much wrong perhaps, but certainly unfairly aimed.

Contemporary edcuation is not broken. Indeed, it’s wildly, unimpeachably successful. The contemporary model was never intended to do anything more than bring broad basic literacy–the Three R’s–to millions. In that it has been brilliantly successful. Between 1870 and 1979, illiteracy rates (the percentage of the population that could not read or write in any language) in the U.S. fell from 20% to 0.6%. That, by any accounting, is a stunning achievement. Instead of criticizing it, we should be throwing education a party; a retirement party perhaps, but one where we nevertheless congratulate ourselves on a job well done. (Even so, we will want to keep the old schools around in a consulting role for a while. Our current cry for reform glosses over the fact that the educational needs of all communities are not uniform. There are many places at home and abroad where we have not yet achieved basic literacy and for that we have a proven model to deploy.)

Sadly, our current discussions around educational reform are characterized by destructive and frustrating criticism and, worse I am afraid, shameful blame–on both sides. State authorities blame teachers for failing to meet prescribed outcomes; teachers blame authorites for failing to see those outcomes are losing their relevance. Perhaps those outcomes are out of step, but it won’t do either to replace them with yet another set, even if they are called something like 21st Century literacies. Swapping “literacies” says we have not significantly changed our thinking. We have to imagine a wholesale structural change, just as we did when we invented public schooling in the first place.(CEET)

Trying to ‘make history’ is lovely literary hyperbole but the viewpoint of connected learning initiatives that move the bar forward is valid. For public education to seek a deeper mandate of 3Rs literacy now that society has significantly evolved from Industrial Age needs is a legitimate goal. Literacy as only a read and write competency is terrific old definition and aspiration, but in our information digital age, other skills that drive a civil society sure seem needed.

Forgive the crude generalization, but we might say there are just two models of edcuation: the first and the oldest, an education for the privileged that was is meant to prepare a them for politics, business and higher study. Call this a liberal education. The second, only a century or two old, a basic literacy education, meant to prepare everyone else to take a place on the shop floor. But now that we have achieved the broad literacy that is the prerequisite for a broad liberal education we can seriously talk about delivering what was once reserved for the priviledged few to everyone.(CEET)

Visit > http://ceetbc.ning.com/ or Twitter #ceetopen


I’m tired too George yet… Wrights Room reblog response

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20130220-210408.jpgI recently attended a teacher evaluation meeting and was taken aback by a few observations very appropriate to this blog because after 32 diverse and rewarding years, I too see myself as an inquiry teacher. At the dinner meeting, graciously hosted by my administrators, a cohort of teachers shared their Personal Growth Plans- an optional process for professional evaluation. I listened to brief reports from teachers that were indicative of some very sincere, passionate and progressive teaching practices and goals. Motivating examples of fellow colleagues, young and old, striving to provide excellent opportunities for teens. I disappointedly also recognized some flaws in how we provide professional development and deliver programs in our public school. I also heard our Principal and Vice Admin share their PGP work. hearing them share what they aspire to do to improve was a rewarding few moments. These passionate people, teachers and administrators, , like George Couros writes, have tired days. It’s a difficult task educating children in our complex times. We are tired. I suppose if we are not something isn’t right, yet we must find balance to remain effective and healthy. Each educator has unique challenges. As a teacher-librarian, my role is diverse and often misinterpreted but the inquiry teacher is more meaningful and also challenging than ever. I’m tired. 🙂 I seek long term collaboration and service but also get inundated hourly with the pressing needs of students and staff. Specialist, non-enrolling teachers are ducks out of water in our system in many ways yet they provide critical support in so many ways. The recent swing to inquiry process and project based learning, along with the technology web2.0 tsunami, has really put my expertise and roving access under demand. I’m tired. 🙂 So when I read Couros’ blog post and now Shelly Wright’s response, I was again rejuvenated by this new connected learning paradigm that allows me to stay engaged with such intelligent professionals so far away and yet so close to home. I’m tired but never feel alone. My school colleagues, my admin team and my PLN have given me new perspectives. If you are not connected to educators online you should be because the support, wisdom and joy of the fraternity refreshes those fatiguing days. Thanks George. Thanks Shelley. Thanks team.

Wright'sRoom

8475376072_bd2422be64_nFriday afternoon, while sitting in an airport, I read a  recent post by George Couros entitled “I’m tired“. I was incredibly impressed, not just because he’s a friend, but because of the sheer audacity & frankness of his words.  How often are people in leadership that honest?  Reflecting on that post for the past three days has led me to writing this post.

I struggle.  I struggle with where I am & what I’m doing. I struggle with the educational system as we know it. I struggle with the painfully slow pace of change.  I struggle with people in power who say they care about kids, but don’t do the hard things to make a really huge difference in creating a learning environment that matters.  With all the research that exists, we know what’s good for kids. Let’s not pretend otherwise. I’m tired of all of the talking…

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Blogging scaffolding connected learning with students

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A major topic of my PGP, is Student Connected Learning. Although, edtech has been a long term specialty my entire professional life, recent developments provide encouraging opportunities for both teacher professional growth and improved student learning.

Through my participation in the open education, ETMOOC course and my ongoing personal learning network, I’m developing my insights and teaching toolbox for blogging and social media in the classroom. Engaging students with academic online experiences that complement curricula and classroom learning activities is my focus. Connected learning has been monopolized, however well intended, by Distance Learning efforts. Blogging, etc. within the classroom and alongside face to face instruction offers powerful benefits for all students. Blogging and ePortfolios is the student 3ring binder on a nutrition and fitness revolution.

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DL has its place, but exploiting online learning ecosystems while teaching and modelling digital citizenship can personalize student learning and develop skills and content knowledge. Students co-creating online, like building ePortfolios, while engaged in classroom activities rather than paper binders provides opportunities for collaboration, discussions and deeper thinking. Initiatives like Project Based Learning(PBL) can be enriched by leverage blogging and other online tasks.

Empowering students in the digital reality requires that teachers and students both learn within digital environments not just use software applications or researching on the web. Students and teachers may find benefits with tools like Moodle or Jupiter Grades, etc but these focus on document delivery and administration. When social media platforms are implemented with sound pedagogy and appropriate instruction scaffolding, learning shifts to student centered. Blogging and ePortfolios has potential to not just strengthen content achievement but provide experiences our students need in high school transition and lifelong learning.

Our students not only need specific instruction in using online environments but they need to develop attitudes and skills global online learning requires. Facebook skills and experience is not enough. Reading, writing and critical thinking are developed uniquely in this digital paradigm. Students can personalize their learning when teachers simultaneously integrate the uniqueness of connected learning platforms with their content expertise. Adult education WILL increasingly include online ecosystems and its time teachers embraced not just the pragmatic but the creative potential social media brings to their practice.

‘An e-portfolio is a purposeful aggregation of digital items – ideas,
evidence, reflections, feedback etc, which “presents” a selected audience
with evidence of a person’s learning and/or ability.’
Sutherland, S. and Powell, A. (2007), Cetis SIG mailing list discussions [www.jiscmail.ac.uk/archives/cetis-portfolio.html] 9 July 2007

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Social media interactions
The Myth of Web 2.0 Non-Participation(Gary Hayes, Flickr)

20130216-112329.jpghttp://openspace.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/blogging-educational-environments/unit-two-student-blog-building-blocks-scaffolding/session-


Achievement Gap- full of gaps

Professional Book Club:

The Global Achievement Gap: Why Our Kids Don’t Have the Skills They Need for College, Careers, and Citizenship–and What We Can Do About It

Description: Despite the best efforts of educators, our nation’s schools are dangerously obsolete. Instead of teaching students to be critical thinkers and problem-solvers, we are asking them to memorize facts for multiple choice tests. This problem isn’t limited to low-income school districts: even our top schools aren’t teaching or testing the skills that matter most in the global knowledge economy. Our teens leave school equipped to work only in the kinds of jobs that are fast disappearing from the American economy. Meanwhile, young adults in India and China are competing with our students for the most sought-after careers around the world.Education expert Tony Wagner has conducted scores of interviews with business leaders and observed hundreds of classes in some of the nation’s most highly regarded public schools. He discovered a profound disconnect between what potential employers are looking for in young people today (critical thinking skills, creativity, and effective communication) and what our schools are providing (passive learning environments and uninspired lesson plans that focus on test preparation and reward memorization).He explains how every American can work to overhaul our education system, and he shows us examples of dramatically different schools that teach all students new skills. In addition, through interviews with college graduates and people who work with them, Wagner discovers how teachers, parents, and employers can motivate the “net” generation to excellence.An education manifesto for the twenty-first century, The Global Achievement Gap is provocative and inspiring. It is essential reading for parents, educators, business leaders, policy-makers, and anyone interested in seeing our young people succeed as employees and citizens.For additional information about the author and the book, please go to www.schoolchange.org

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 12th 2008 by Basic Books
ISBN
0465002293 (ISBN13: 9780465002290)
As part of our faculty professional book club, we are reading Wagner’s book on education reform. Tony Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap ‘sells’ the same message as Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat but without the written persuasive craftsmenship. Wagner’s effort is not a than an academic treatise on US schools but a socio-economic essay. His overwhelming focus on the corporate needs of America pretty much collapsed my bubble early on. His assumption, regardless of the plight he describes, that corporate executives know what is best for US public education is seriously flawed. He blatantly has a bias toward the charter school movement and privatizing of education so it is difficult to give much credence to this book as innovative educationally. His narrative is also tainted by the author’s focus on his own abilities and knowledge. Wagner offers essentially zero solutions or suggestions short of suggesting that Education czars should be CEO in the Fortune 500.
I suspect that my reading the book published in 2010 might be unfair. The dialogue at that time has evolved considerably. I follow many US blogs and Twitter feeds from the education arena so the timbre of the reform debate feels far more sophisticated than Wagner’s assessment only a few years ago. I disagree with his sweeping statements. Wagner argues that the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which attempted to shrink the achievement gap between the best and worst schools, left schools less effective than ever. He fails to critically assess the Act. Many of the very supporters of his new book are the same supporters of the Bush NCLB regime that reduced creativity and focused more and more on standardized exams.
” The problem lies in the fact there is very little, if any, quantitative data or research to support his claims. ”( Amazon)
The strength of Wagner’s argument is his desire to loudly announce the need for innovative critical thinking problem solvers. Everyone understands these aspirations but you cannot judge a program or school by something you cannot or will not measure. Sadly the Obama regime is no further ahead of the obsession with standardized high stakes exams. In Wagner’s defense, the current fixation on Common Core is an attempt to measure teachers not develop more problem solving skilled children.
I see more truth in his critique of problems with the teaching profession. I work to incorporate collaboration into my classes, and try to include as much critical thinking as I can. It is often hard to generate the compelling, open-ended questions and student assessments that Wagner cites in his examples of schools that work. It takes a great deal of time to developing those higher level questions with students. The system still demands measurable outcomes that are seldom deep thinking. Students are expected to know for college or the fixed curricula that do not address Wagner’s “seven critical skills” at all. From my experience and observations, many of the points the author makes about high school are more indicative at the college level.
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One of major points of the book, and one that is not supported by my personal experience, is Wagner’s view that high schools are too focused on memorization. I’ve only worked at three high schools, and they may be exceptions, but both the classes I’ve taught and the student work I’ve seen for other classes has been minimally focused on memorization. In my chemistry class, I have students memorize 40 common element symbols and around 35 vocabulary words over the course of the school year (about one a week), and even those are used in context and clearly aligned to other objectives. Our school does not offer AP classes (instead encouraging students to enroll in actual college classes), so that could partially explain the difference in emphasis.

Another point Wagner makes too much of is that academic content is constantly changing, and changing rapidly. He’s very hung up on whether there are eight or nine planets, but at least for science, Pluto’s “demotion” is the exception that proves the rule. While the Periodic Table students see in chemistry grows slowly (at around the pace new particle colliers are constructed), the elements I have students memorize are not in constant flux. It would make more sense to think of physical science as an expanding pool of knowledge. While changes are occurring on the shoreline, much of the knowledge students are learning in high school is in the very center. It’s important for students to see the changes on the edges (Higg’s boson-type stuff) to know that interesting science is still being done, but Wagner needs to recognize that there are core sets of principles students can learn that are not in danger of becoming instantly obsolete.

An interesting aside, he mentions is the idea of “bubble students” – how teachers are asked to identify students that can be “moved” to the next proficiency band and focus efforts on them. My principal demands a list of 10 students from each teacher at the start of the year. I compliantly submit it and never look at it again. This little glimpse of school life rang totally sad and true for me.

I generally agreed with the issues Wagner cites in the teaching profession – specifically the lack of collaboration, the pointless time-theft of faculty meetings as they are currently structured, and the lack of meaningful feedback from administrators. While neither of the two teacher preparation programs I participated in (long story) were quite as useless as Wagner’s, they were each at least 1/2 useless. I emphatically agree with his point that video critiques of teaching are an especially meaningful way to get feedback on the art of teaching – although they can be painful to watch too. I did three in my first teacher prep program but none in my second.

Interestingly, the work the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing with teacher evaluations, that Wagner cites glowingly, has had a profound negative effect on my satisfaction in the teaching profession. “Checkbox – All Satisfaction” ratings have been replaced with cruel, punitive, and even more useless “Approaching Effective” ratings. As I’ve repeatedly told my “peer reviewer”, switching reviews from “pointless” to “cruel and pointless” makes my likely decision to leave the profession much easier. I’ve worked at Capital One and GE, two organizations that claim to aggressively manage performance, and I have never been upset and demoralized by a review process like in Denver Public Schools.

I do like that Wagner does not take the easy way out and blame teachers unions exclusively. Unions are a problem, but my general experience has been that administrator incompetence unfortunately necessitates an incompetent counterbalance. (I could go into a tirade about the five terrible principals I’ve endured in my three years of teaching, but suffice it to say it’s worse than you can probably imagine in every way. A few assistant principals have been exceptions, but not many of those either…) Surprising, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has been notably silent on principal evaluation.

Wagner’s book is thought-provoking and engaging even though I didn’t agree with all his points. The skills he lists are important and the questions he asks after learning walks are great questions for reflective teachers to ask themselves. Maybe one day we’ll even have time to ask them of each other during faculty meetings, assuming our lists of “bubble students” have been properly submitted to our principals of course.

I found this book to be extremely repetitive and highly disappointing. While I do not have all the answers and certainly agree with Wagner’s stance on the lack of “rigor” in over-hyped Advanced Placement factories in the suburbs, Wagner continuously went back to the question: W.D.CEOs.W. That is: “What do CEOs want?” as if CEOs of major corporations are the epitome of Wagner’s seven survival skills for teens today. It is comical to read — though not surprising seeing Wagner is a member of the foundation-movement that funds much of educational experimentation today — how CEOs are lecturing us all about how stupid public-school educated kids are. Were these not the same jokers who gambled tens of trillions of dollars away in the course of a few years? Though they were persuasive enough to milk the taxpayers on both ends of the financial collapse. Must have done well on the new CLA exams college are offering as exit exams.Ironcially, CEOs want smart employees but need dumb consumers to buy their junk products and financial services.Wagner is a pure capitalist in the same way Glenn Beck is a pure capitalist. He packages ideas together (rigor, critical thinking, agility), sells them to an audience (in this case both CEOs and education leaders) and profits from it. Although unlike Beck, who is intentionally destructive in his language and probably doesn’t believe half of what he says, Wagner at least cares about what he is talking about, but I find it to be disingenuous. On one hand, he talks about needing teachers to be smart and analytical about their craft. Then on the other hand he lamented that one of this subjects in his book, who could have been a scientist, instead become a lowly teacher. Don’t we need smart teachers to teach kids these skills?
The culture of learning is so much about passive consumption…That’s where we all learn to be good little consumers – in school.” Boy, if that’s not a reason to encourage active learning and discourage rote memorization, I don’t know what is!and: “We need to encourage intrinsic motivation…find and pursue intellectual or artisitic passion.” I think we’ve all had the experience where we have been intrinsically motivated to learn something and been amazed at how easy and fun learning is when that is the case
I wasn’t illuminated by anything particularly new. Yes, for the most part our education system has not kept up with trends in the workforce. Yes, the current trend focusing on standardized testing is harming our children’s educational experiences. And, certainly, yes, we need to be looking to the wider world with an emphasis on developing critical thinking skills and learning to function in a global setting. Good teachers and good school systems are already attempting to tackle these issues. I would recommend this book to parents and politicians! For those who feel the need to be involved in schools, but are not themselves professional educators, this book should surely be a recommended read
Two major premises of Wagner’s book I don’t really agree with:1. Corporate & business types know what is best for K-12 education.
2. The current internet-enabled generation is fundamentally different from all previous generations.Also, Wagner has a clear lack of understanding of math & science and is on very shaky ground whenever discussing these subjects. He makes claims such as the periodic table is “constantly changing” (it is not) and says something like, “No one has explained to me the broad usefulness of math above algebra and statistics,” while the relevancy of Shakespeare is explicitly stated but not explained, even though I would say Shakespeare is to reading what calculus is to math.Wagner practically marginalizes the importance of math when he incorrectly copies math questions from standardized tests, without proper formatting, thereby making them impossible to solve. He goes on to spend a page and a half on the precise definition of “mystic,” but blows off the math questions with comments like, “I bet you struggled with the math questions.”

The book is filled with anecdotes and vague prescriptions and, while offering up many intriguing new paradigms in educations, fails to address the fundamental issue of the world changing so fast that education will always seem outdated. Wagner’s prescription for Rigor, Relevance and Relationships (replacing the old school Reading, wRiting & aRithmetic) falls short in my eyes: Rigor remains hard to define; Relevance in K-12 education is moot: no ones is teaching irrelevant things, we are all working on basic skills; Relationships is great, but an academic classroom is probably not the most efficient place for that. Meanwhile, kids still need to read more, write more, and learn their multiplication tables (which he cites many times as unquestionably something worth memorizing but does not appear to be aware that modern students are oftentimes not required to memorize them and actually can not multiply without calculators).

Having said all that, I do like how he is fair about disagreeing with the business world that teacher unions and lazy teachers are the root of the problem. I also like his broad panning of all the NCLB testing mandates and his mocking of the buzz words “standards based” & “data driven”. I do also agree that more respect for teaching as a highly-skilled profession would lead to the acknowledgment that teaching preparation & collaboration are as crucial to the job as classroom time

Other related works…


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Vision, Planning and hazards building digital neighbourhoods

Connected learning is like building digital neighbourhoods. Yes, one good analogy but it takes more than vision and skill building. It takes planning and plenty of patience because it can be a neighbourhood with pot holes, speed bumps and detours. I excitedly thought I had a new paved cul de sac but discovered a dead-end so now I need to design some new routes and modes of transport. How do I build digital neighbourhood for my teens when I cannot have them blog?

Swim Lessons

(Swim Lessons by ICMA Photos)
It was more than curiosity or insanity to join #etmooc, it was also an effort to develop assets and insights that may be needed while building my professional growth plan. My PGPs have always had a collaboration and teacher in-service theme over the years because I believe it is important part of my role as a teacher-librarian. Our role lends itself to developing and sharing resources including human capital. I’ve run into a serious obstacle.

This week I’m rethinking the entire process and priorities. BC Provincial FOIPPA law and our District policies prevent me from advancing student activities into publishing their own blogs or using social media creation. I have a conundrum. Developing connected learning as my PGP focus and synthesizing teaching practices with colleagues is on pause because I’ve run into policy barriers. Apparently our students, if directed or guided in class by teachers, cannot publish content outside our nation and preferably should be inside our WAN. I have been expanding my training sessions, peer tutoring and collaborative teaching plans to reflect my growth and understanding in the field. I have many teachers demanding support and excited about their new-found skills. The natural scope and sequence is for kids to develop their own digital portfolios and learn discourse in their digital neighbourhood. Now they may inquire online but not create or share online. Emailing digital assignments to their teacher is not a sufficient paradigm in my mind.

“Just having a teacher blog is not a new neighbourhood. It is still an old paradigm in new clothes. Our students need to be on the street with us, not shut ins “

I’ve spent a great deal of personal time studying the ways and means of bringing sound pedagogy into 21stC progressive practices. I believe we owe it to our students to provide opportunities AND a level of skill in digital citizenship and connected learning. Just offering Distance Learning options in a course guide does not suffice. Just saying you desire citizenship does not suffice. It is wholly inadequate to transition our pupils without any training or experience using social media tools for scholarship. Assuming that independent Facebook hours or a birthdate ensures a ‘digital nativeness’ is foolish. We need to teach them as well as we teach anything else. Ill also argue that in doing so will make our students preparedness in the sciences, arts or any specialty stronger.

Our business leaders, our community, our government and our own district want more modern, relevant and personal learning methods but handcuffing teachers assets, by policy, lacks practical and ethical integrity. We are not adequately preparing our students for college, workplace or civic life. In my mind, not having kids writing, creating, sharing , managing their digital content ( blog being the core ) is akin to teaching swimming without water. It’s like teaching sex education by only talking about family planning.

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(image, Al Smith,CC-ncsa )
I do not question my district personnel interest in youth just the opposite. We are well off and advanced in so many ways. Our team, top to bottom, love kids- that I truly see. Even my IT technicians love our kids. Network Use Agreements outlines internet usage for students and faculty and obviously safety of youth is paramount. I get that part intensely more than most but if my government hires us to take care of our children and be responsible for their education every day, I think teachers are very capable of implementing new online publishing experiences safely and in fact help prepare students well.

“…The existing educational model with its expert-centered pedagogical planning and publishing cycle is too static and prescribed to accommodate the kind of fluid, transitory conception of knowledge that is necessary to understand the simplest of Web-based concepts.”

(Cormier, 2013)

We ( society ) are currently not preparing youth well enough now. They need more proactive skills while on the digital streets. They are driving around without else so by restricting their short stories, essays or image mash-ups to paper or Word docs that only a single teacher ever sees is akin to letting our kids only dip in the plastic kiddies pool and never jump into the deep end of the pool until they graduate from our school. A well designed classroom and mindful digital pedagogy with student blogs as a core, is a scholarly neighbourhood full of critical thinking and all the content and skills other found in a paper classroom. Fear that blogging is another risky “add-on” is simply nonsense. Blogging is the new duo tang. An ‘A’ student blog can be an honours student’s 3ring binder with wings.

“…If the world of media education is thought of as a rhizome, as a library à la Eco [in The Name of the Rose], then we need to construct our own connections through this space in order to appropriate it. However, instead of that solitary groping made by Brother William, we see as our goal the co-construction of those secret connections as a collaborative effort.

(Tella 2000, 41)

I was devastated for a while. My peers are disappointed. I am meeting with senior management soon to either create a solution or at least make a position clear. Take account. My school admin understands my anguish. They are my team but a large high school has other problems pot holes to fill in. Not everyone sees my passion about this topic as important, never mind urgent. I’m already trying to find new routes through or around the neighbourhood. Maybe I can get WordPress MU installed and running on site? Or get by until Sharepoint is enabled? I have people. I have assets. I’ve seen the power connected learning and social media can have on academic engagement. Vision? Dream? Hazard? Not sure, but the status quo, regardless of how good is no longer good enough. STAY TUNED.  I’m a connected learner and I will find solutions. 🙂
– Al Smith @literateowl


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Serendipity, hangin’ out and pure genius? Power of MOOC?

Serendipity Today was a morphing dreamy kind of day as Bonnie Stewart blogged today. It was also a strangely fulfilling day because of the organic intermixing of my PLN. And the Etmooc Community I’ve been engaged with recently. Today I taught, coached, blogged, Tweeted, joined a Google Hangout for the first time and with fascination made cognitive connections. Serendipity? Random? Or we’re these connections for me the RESULT of the MOOC design and nature?

So I followed the lead of Linda Hall @mslhall to join a Google Hangout. My first. It worked rather well. Informal. Like a Starbucks tutorial in a way. The conversations about the ETMOOC and work evolved to even specifics like hardware but included methodology like #geniushour. I was familiar with Google’s corporate model having read Googled by Ken Auletta, but never heard of its educational application as Linda explained it. I was excited about its potential immediately! ( Manicly pasting the Hangout chat URLs into my Evernote and Diigo) and moved on grinning that I got as much as I gave. This Hangout thing might be a value-added tool?

So while closing down my browser and getting dinner, I’ve got a brief DM with Carolyn in Twitter . I saw her question about contract and assessment and then whimsically asked her about #geniushour. Well! Guess what? My colleague down the street, who is also an ETMOOCer is a Genius! She’s using Genius Hour with senior Biology this new semester.

Carolyn Durley (@okmbio).
2013-01-30 9:16 PM
@MsLHall Sounds great!

Serendipity? Random? One minute I never heard the term , the next, Ive got an expert in my own town and it took a connected learning environment/community around the world to make it so. Another blogger( Denise Krebs ) writing about PLN refers to N as neighbour. This MOOC is a course, is a community, is a network- its like a neighbourhood. Maybe this kind of nurturing isn’t clean but I think it works for professional development and I think it promotes innovation and spirit. I’m not so sure about k-12 or even college except in doses. So far MOOC. Might be pure genius but it demands considerable skills sets and some great neighbours!