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

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2 thoughts on “A Big word for the Big Picture

  1. Wonderful post! I think that with a new superintendent and a renewal of energy for Inspiring Hearts & Minds, Canadian Rockies Public Schools District will have a very big
    learning year. I look forward to sharing your journey in education and teaching excellence as you post on your blog.

  2. Debbie, interesting blog! You point out the idea of keeping the ‘big picture’ in mind as to understand the growing needs of embracing knowledge. I think it is an integral part of teaching as well as learning. The implications of the same ought to be far- fetched. The networks and their connection are so closely associated that understanding the complexity of its structure is essential. Experience has taught us embracing new ideas and resources opens minds at various levels. Siemens (2004) refers to Vail’s (1996) idea of learning theories and their principle by emphasizing that “learning must be a way of being an ongoing set of attitudes and actions by individuals and groups that they employ to try to keep abreast o the surprising, novel, messy, obtrusive, recurring events…” ( p.42). After all what educators learn is reflected on to their learners. The experienced teacher that you have referred to could be used as an example to visualize of a fundamental problem. It would be a starting point that widens the gap between digital immigrants and digital natives. This could be just one of the many implications of the same. Wikis, blogs, vlogs, tweets, app may be overwhelming for a few so much so that they are intimidated by the jargons. The need today and in the future is for teaching professionals to act as coaches, mentors, technology facilitators for teachers and students. The schools require update technology support and administrative processes so as to focus on improvising learning using the tools we already have. Keeping the ‘big picture’ in mind could very well be used as a reminder of enhancing the learning to promote characteristics of a 21st century learner.
    References:
    Siemens, G. (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

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