An Hour a Day

Recently I read about a young man named Jeremy Gleick in a very long manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin.  (Godin, 2012, p.81).  Gleick made a conscious decision to spend one hour per day learning something new.  He became smarter than most of his peers by giving up a little TV.   After reading the NMC Horizon Report 2012, I wondered what the impact on education (and ultimately student learning) would be if teachers devoted one hour a day (okay, how about 30 minutes?) to exploring and learning about innovative and creative practices to enhance student learning.  

One of the drivers of change outlined in the 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning is the Amplified Organization.  This includes amplified educators.   My understanding of amplified educators is teachers who have consciously made a decision to learn and incorporate social technologies in their practice.  Godin states, “…and the only barrier to learning for most young adults in the developed world is now merely the decision to learn.”  I would delete the word ‘young’ in this statement.  Learning is a choice we all make (or not) every day. 

A key technology goal of our school division is to use technology on a daily basis to support learning across the curriculum.   “Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession, especially teaching.” (Johnson, Adams, & Cummins, 2012, p.9)  Plainly, this goal needs to be met in the very near future.  Due to lack of formal training, I see teachers beginning to make a concerted effort to search out informal learning opportunities.  As David Donahoo says in his blog, “… developing children’s skills across multiple literacies like visual, digital, media and networking is important and using technology to do it is a no-brainer.”  Developing educators’ transliteracy skills is also a no-brainer. 

Wondering where to start?  The NMC Horizon EdTech Weekly App caught my eye this week.  It is a $2.99 App that provides field examples of emerging technology effectively integrated into teaching, learning and creative inquiry. Twitter offers numerous leads to online resources.  TeacherTube has numerous instructional videos online.  “Real learning happens in bursts, and often those bursts occur in places or situations that are out of the ordinary.”  (Godin, 2012, p.144)  Whether it’s an app, the Net or Twitter, teachers can find learning opportunities everywhere… it’s as close as your Smartphone.

References:

Darwish, J., Grimsley, K., Moyer, J. World of Learning Resources. Retrieved from: http://futureofed.org/resources/world-of-learning-resources/ 

Donahoo, D., Horizon Report 2012 Released: The Future of Education is Mobile.  Retrieved from:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-donahoo/horizon-report-k12-releas_b_863345.html

Godin, Seth. Stop Stealing Dreams (What Is School For?). (Free Online Publication, 2012). Retrieved from: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/02/wwwstopstealingdreamscom-my-new-manifesto-is-now-live.html

Johnson, L. Adams, S. and Cummins, M. (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition, Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from: http://www.nmc.org/publications/2012-horizon-report-k12

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A Big word for the Big Picture

Curious?  It’s Connectivism.  Our school division is embarking on the division-wide work of focusing on instructional excellence.  The learning theory, Connectivism, provides a framework that supports the goals and vision of this work.  After reading George Siemens: “The organization and the individual are both learning organisms. Increased attention to knowledge management highlights the need for a theory that attempts to explain the link between individual and organizational learning.” (Siemens, 2004), the big picture became crystal clear.  I liken this endeavour with my experience at the optometrist.  After successfully reading slightly fuzzy letters, the optometrist rotated the lens once.  All became perfectly clear.  Determining the big picture – the why, what, and how’s of “Nurturing a Culture of Excellence” – is the first step.

One would think that all teachers would embrace the nurturing a culture of instructional excellence without question, but I was shocked to discover this is not the case.  I was surprised to hear a very experienced teacher take offense to the very idea of nurturing instructional excellence.  Perhaps she felt the implication was teachers in our division are only good teachers.  I wish she could read Siemens (2004) when he says, “Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today.”  Knowing that teaching is the single greatest impact on student learning – is that not enough of a motivator to actuate powerful teaching practices?

One must understand the ‘big picture’ in order to understand where one is going.  The connection between an organization as a learning organism and instructional excellence will translate into an intricate web of professional development, tools to share and communicate learning and ideas (i.e.: Twitter, reflective blogs), peer feedback and reflection.  In-depth understanding of such a complex concept requires a variety of supports to meet the professional learning needs of individuals within the context of the organization.  The very social nature of learning is well-suited to an organization working to connect on different levels and share learning.  “Knowledge flow can be likened to a river that meanders through the ecology of an organization.  In certain areas, the river pools and in other areas it ebbs.”  (Siemens, 2004) 

Siemens, G. (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm