innovation

Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards…. But it Must Be Lived Forwards!

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“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”  

~John Dewey, 1915

Fascination lies in the fact that the greatest challenge of practice we face in education today was so eloquently stated 100 years ago.  In this progressive age of “21st Century Education”, I find myself deeply reflecting on the the future of schooling, the nature of educational leadership and the evolving culture of learning in our current education system.  All are evolving, but at a rate that does not necessarily reflect the pace of societal change.  We seem trapped in a tunnel and the fear of not knowing what is in the light at the end of that tunnel deters the transformation of a system and stunts the growth of the  learners within it. Facing an ever increasing pace of societal change, it is imperative that we focus and refine our efforts to construct meaningful, relevant and engaging modern learning experiences for all students.  Environments that are optimized, individualized and reflect the shift from a passive process to a participatory experience are critical to ensuring learners are prepared to participate and contribute to a newly emerging future.  Dewey’s insight provides a compass to guide the pedagogical choices we make ensuring they are grounded in the needs of the learners before us and they are not overshadowed by our past experiences or comfort with what we did yesterday.

Globalization and the ubiquitous  access to information has changed the landscape of the learning experience and the walls of the “traditional” classroom are falling.  More than ever before, students are guiding their own learning, defining their own curriculum and accessing knowledge on demand.  Unaware of constructed boundaries, children don’t know where to stop learning and what they are not capable of.   They can learn amazing things anytime, anywhere and from anyone.  It is an experiential process that is individualized to respect and reflect the learner.  It should not be a competitive journey in which the individual feels discouraged from trying for fear of being wrong.  The environment must support a person’s innate desire to learn and provide them with opportunities to learn what, when and how they want to. The fundamental goal of education must be to teach learners how to learn.  It is so much more than just the regurgitation of the information that has been deemed relevant and important.  We must teach students to connect the dots, not just collect the dots, so they can succeed and adapt to changing needs in a dynamic and demanding world.

How, when, where and who we learn from is beginning a metamorphosis.  The needs, scope and scale of the so called “21st Century Classroom” must evolve to reflect a new global and digital reality that is challenging to define due to the rapid pace of its own evolution.  Information communication technologies are redefining, accelerating and deepening the learning experience connecting everything to everyone, everywhere.  Everyone has become the teacher of everyone else and the role of the “traditional” teacher is being redefined.  To ignore the collaborative potential of the collective marginalizes the goals of education and the development of true life-long learners.

Strong educators that collaboratively engage in and model the learning process are the keys to unlocking the greatness in kids. Strong teachers recognize that learning reaches far beyond the curriculum, recognize the unique context and experience of each child and cultivate a sense of wonder in students that is fuelled by their own passion.  Strong teachers are not defined by the tools they use but instead by the relationships they build, the imaginations they ignite and the community they bring together.

The most effective leaders in education, those with the vision to innovate and the capacity to empower, are they themselves the most active and engaged learners.  Educational leadership is not about finding the single best way to do things; leadership demands having a vision to enable all learners to maximize their unique potential and find their opportunity to lead.  An effective leader engages in the process of growth to facilitate and support the growth of those they influence.  Overcoming the notion that the only leaders in education are those that sit highest in the hierarchy of the system is critical to the successful transformation of the paradigm of education.  As teachers and lead learners, we must all develop, explore and engage in effective pedagogies to collaborate, communicate, create and curate the ideas, experiences and insights of all our leaders past, present and future.  Strong educators lead this evolutionary change  to build a system that can support an undefined future that is demanding a redefined paradigm.

The potency of modern education can not be realized if we remain solely anchored in repeating the successes of the past.  Soren Kierkegaard reminds us that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”  We must be fully cognizant of and responsive to the evolving culture of learning in our education system.   We must embrace the challenge to apply design thinking principles to truly re-imagine the educational experience.  It is imperative for this and future generations that we accelerate the growth of the current pockets of experimentation into a culture of innovation.   It is not enough to merely focus on doing old things in new ways, we must innovate and envision doing new things in ways that we never imagined!

Teach. Learn. Collaborate.: Free Doesn’t Mean Barrier Free

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Free Doesn’t Mean Barrier Free.

Last week I had an interesting conversation with a parent that  lluminated an issue that I think is important to those of us who are using, or advocating the use of digital tools in the classroom: Free tools aren’t necessarily barrier free. In this case, her concerns arose not from how tools were being used in the classroom, but the expectations around students and parents using these tools at home. This parent wanted to be involved in her child’s education, and had made several attempts to the issues her family was experiencing addressed by the school. To be specific, this parent was experiencing issues with using Google Apps for Education and the chosen home/school communication tool while on the family computer at home and on mobile devices.

Read more of this post at Teach. Learn. Collaborate.: Free Doesn’t Mean Barrier Free.

Inspiring Kids to Learn More and Strive for Greatness!

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I am never one to sit still too long. It seems that to keep myself energized and engaged as a learner/leader, I need to shake things up and look for new opportunities and challenges.  That being said, I have changed roles this year from that of being a regional edtech coach in our District of 10,000 teachers to one of being an instructional coach for new teachers.  I know it will challenge me to continue my own learning and give me the opportunity to contribute to shifting the culture of learning and teaching in our Board.

In applying for the position, I had to reflect on a quote that speaks to my beliefs about teaching and learning, explain why I chose this quote and how it is reflected in my current practice.  In my effort to start “learning out loud” more often I thought I would share my thoughts here and see what comes about.

Strong teachers

“Strong teachers don’t teach content; Google has content.  Strong teaching connects learning in ways that inspire kids to learn more and strive for greatness.”  Eric Jensen in Education Week Teacher

In this progressive age of “21st Century Education”, I find myself deeply reflecting on the the future of schooling, the nature of leadership and the evolving culture of learning in our current education system.  All are evolving, but at a pace that does not necessarily reflect the pace of societal change.  We seem trapped in a tunnel and the fear of not knowing what is in the light at the end of that tunnel deters the transformation of a system and stunts the growth of the  learners within it.   This quote reinforces my core belief that regardless of the paradigm of education or the current pedagogical emphasis, the learning experience is brought to life by teachers.  Teachers nurture the inspirational environments that open the doors and let the learner loose to explore and experience their own ascent to greatness.

Classroom leadership is not about finding the single best way to do things; leadership demands having a vision as to how enable all learners to maximize their unique potential and find their opportunity to lead.  An effective leader must be a true learner her/himself that engages in the process of growth to facilitate and support the growth of those they influence.  Breaking down the notion that the only leaders in education are those that sit highest in the hierarchy of the system is critical to the successful transformation of the paradigm of education.  As teachers and lead learners, we must develop and explore and engage in effective pedagogies to collaborate, communicate, create and curate the ideas, experiences and insights of all our leaders past, present and future.  Strong teachers lead this evolutionary change  to build a system that can support an undefined future that is demanding a redefined paradigm.

Learning is innate.  Unaware of constructed boundaries, children don’t know where to stop and what they are not capable of.  They will learn anywhere and everywhere.  They can learn amazing things anywhere, anytime and from anyone.  How do we build a learning environment that allows students to learn what, when and how they want to?   How do we also ensure that their developmental needs are supported and relevant, contextual intellectual stimulation are reflected.  Learning is an experiential process that is individualized and must respect and reflect the learner.  Learning and creativity should not be a threatening experience.  It should not be a competitive journey in which the individual is discouraged from trying for fear of being wrong.  The fundamental goal of education must be to teach learners how to learn.  It is so much more than just the regurgitation of the information that is deemed relevant and important.  We must teach students to connect the dots, not just collect the dots, so they can succeed and adapt to changing needs in a dynamic and demanding world.

How, when, where and who we learn from is beginning a metamorphosis.  The needs, scope and scale of the so called “21st Century Classroom” must evolve to reflect a new global reality that is challenging to define due to the rapid pace of its own evolution.  Information communication technologies are redefining the learning experience connecting everything to everyone, everywhere.  Everyone has become the teacher of everyone else and the role of the “traditional” teacher has been redefined.  To ignore the collaborative potential of the collective marginalizes the goals of education and the development of true life-long learners.  

Strong teachers that collaboratively engage in and model the learning process are the keys to unlocking the greatness in kids. Strong teachers recognize that learning reaches far beyond the curriculum, recognize the unique context and experience of each child and cultivate a sense of wonder in students that is fuelled by their own passion.  Strong teachers are not defined by the tools they use but instead by the relationships they build, the imaginations they ignite and community they bring together.

Jim Jamieson, OCT

5 Habits Of People Who Never Stop Learning

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Posted: 05/15/2014 11:17 am EDT

Many people claim to be a “lifetime learners,” and with good reason. Scientists have warned that you need to keep your brain active if you want to avoid mental decay. But some people seem to learn easier and faster than others. These smart people often show creativity and innovation, and quickly pick up new skills on their own time.

Learning should be easy to do since we all go through years of schooling training on how to do it. But beyond basic acquisition of knowledge, there is a real art to intensive learning. For deep learning you have to find the time and energy for knowledge and skills building. Really successful learners know the trick is to make the process itself as energizing and efficient as possible. Here’s how they do it.

1. Imagine the outcome.Learning for learning sake is fine for academics or people with lots of time on their hands, but as a busy achiever your learning needs to have purpose. Understanding the need will help you assess how much and how fast you need to learn something. When you start out to learn a new skill set or master new knowledge, envision what you will do with it. Get a very clear mental picture of how it will change the way you work and live. Taking a language class? See yourself conversing with a new client in a foreign country. Training on new software? Picture the problem you’ll solve with it and how it will streamline activity. Successful learners identify the objective at the start, and create a strong, emotionally compelling vision of what will happen when they reach that objective.

Read More at 5 Habits Of People Who Never Stop Learning.

Three Working Models to Integrate Technology in Your Teaching ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

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Reposted from  Three Working Models to Integrate Technology in Your Teaching ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

May 6, 2014
Technology is obviously an essential element in our instructional toolkit. Knowing how and when and for what purposes to use this technology is much more important than the technology itself. Technology integration in instruction requires much more than just digital literacy and technical knowledge, it requires foresight, clear intentions, and well planned goals. The purpose is to meet students learning needs and as such technology is only a means to an end and not the end itself.

An important step in the process of effective integration of technology in education is having a pedagogical approach supported by a theoretical framework to ground your technology practices inside the classroom. Of course there are several frameworks to help you teach using technology but three approaches  in particular stand out from the rest. These are SAMR model, TPACK model, and Marslow model.

1- SAMR model


SAMR is a framework through which you can assess and evaluate the technology you use in your classroom. This framework is made up of 4 levels:

Substitution
In a substitution level, teachers or students are only using new technology tools to replace old ones, for instance, using Google Docs to replace Microsoft Word. the task ( writing) is the same but the tools are different.

Augmentation
Though it is a different level, but we are still in the substitution mentality but this time with added functionalities. Again using the example of Google docs, instead of only writing a document and having to manually save it and share it with others, Google Docs provides extra services like auto saving, auto syncing, and auto sharing in the cloud.

Modification
This is the level where technology is being used more effectively not to do the same task using different tools but to redesign new parts of the task and transform students learning. An example of this is using the commenting service in Google Docs, for instance, to collaborate and share feedback on a given task task.

Redefinition
If you are to place this level in Blooms revised taxonomy pyramid, it would probably correspond to synthesis and evaluation as being the highest order thinking skills. Redefinition means that students use technology to create imperceptibly new tasks. An example of redefinition is when students connect to a classroom across the world where they would each write a narrative of the same historical event using the chat and comment section to discuss the differences, and they use the voice comments to discuss the differences they noticed and then embed this in the class website.

Read more at Three Working Models to Integrate Technology in Your Teaching ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

Mobile Learning Explained Visually ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

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Reposted from Mobile Learning Explained Visually ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

he graphic below provides a good mapping of the mobile learning landscape. It features some interesting stats and digital habits that make out of the on the go learning  a powerful learning brand that is expected to reign in the near future.

While I find this visual very interesting , I do  have one concern related to the concept of digital natives used in the first section. Several people think of digital natives as kids who are born into this digital world and possess some amazing digital skills acquired through their overuse of digital media. Part of this is true but there is another part that we need to know:

Read more at Mobile Learning Explained Visually ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

mobile learning    source : Voxy

The EdTech Presentation for People Who Don’t Like EdTech Presentations

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Reposted from The EdTech Presentation for People Who Don’t Like EdTech Presentations.

 

The main theme for Dan’s talk revolves around the concept of an EdTech Mission Statement. This is a concept that often gets glossed over in the hype of hot new tools and chart topping apps. What is the pedagogical goal we want to achieve? How can technology help us progress towards that goal? For Dan, technology helps him capture, share and resolve perplexity… The goals of his EdTech mission statement.

Read more at The EdTech Presentation for People Who Don’t Like EdTech Presentations.