Here’s a glimpse of my K12 Online Conference 2009 presentation, Slippery Rocks & Hard Places. You can view the whole presentation on Thursday, December 10, 2009. Enjoy!
Here’s a glimpse of my K12 Online Conference 2009 presentation, Slippery Rocks & Hard Places. You can view the whole presentation on Thursday, December 10, 2009. Enjoy!
This (from Space.com) should help us keep it all in perspective. Don’t sweat the small stuff? It’s all small stuff compared to this.
What does it bring to your mind? NCLB? Standardized testing?
Scott McLeod of Dangerously Irrelevant fame invited edubloggers (educational bloggers) worldwide to post (write in our blogs) about digital technologies. As a former superintendent of schools and educational leader in my state, I have a strong foundation in pre-digital age education. That foundation has prepared me well to know what I don’t know and need to know. Two years ago I realized the world was rapidly changing in ways that have major implications for how we teach and students learn. I’m on a journey to learn what I need to know. In this post I share some of what I’ve learned in hopes that all teacher and administrative learners will begin their own journey into the digital world.
The Times They are A-Changin
In the 1960’s change was in the air. The Beatles first trip to the United States was in 1964 and the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held the summer of 1969 in Bethel, New York. A whole generation was learning beyond school from the likes of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Peter, Paul and Mary and Pete Seeger.
When I graduated from college in 1970, there were transistor radios, TVs and record players or turntables. To the best of my knowledge, there were no computers; no Internet; no computer companies like Apple or Microsoft; no web browsers; no e-mail; no software for word processing, slide presenting, spread sheet making or video gaming; no ISPs; no SPAM; no .jpg or MIDI files, no MS Office; no RealAudio, no search engines; no modems, no Silicon Valley; no Napster; no cell phones.
All of these phenomena entered our world during the last three decades of the 20th Century. I continued to learn beyond school using these tools, but the pace of change was relatively slow. If the story ended there, maybe schools could continue to assign technology to the technology lab, ably managed by computer teachers or computer lab teacher assistants. In an imagined world we could control the learning environment by creating learning standards, routines and structures to prevent students from “growing up digital.” Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, the story did not end there and shortly after the beginning of the 21st Century, digital change began to dramatically accelerate. Technological innovation began to blossom. In fact, over the last few years, technology has began to transform our world in ways few of us could have imagined, a fact most people now recognize because we have experienced some of it. However, you may not be aware of the magnitude of the change because it is happening at breakneck speed — and it seems to be accelerating!
Consider this. Until the end of the century there were no intelligent mobile devices or PDAs; no Bluetooth; no IM/texting; no blogging; no Twitter; no Tweetdeck; no Skype; no Facebook or MySpace; no FlipVideo; no RSS feeds; no wikis; no podcasts; no iPods; no iPhone or iPhone apps; no Photo Booth; no GarageBand; no iMovie; no iTunes; no iTunes University; no YouTube or Vimeo; no Buzzword; no Diigo or delicious; no Flickr; no Skitch; no Mind42 or Mindomo; no Jing; no SecondLife; no Google Mail, Maps, Groups, Alerts, Docs, Books, Scholar, Calendar, Knol, Picasa, Reader, Sketch Up, Translate, Notebook, iGoogle, Custom Search; no Google Earth, Sky, or Ocean layer.
Now, I could continue the list for the rest of the article with a hundred more tools, but my point is that we are in the middle of a new revolution, the “Web 2.0,” “Read-Write,” “Participatory-Culture,” “Social-Learning,” revolution. Where this will evolve is uncertain, but I know from personal experience that the changes in technology are not slowing down. If there is a next stage, call it Web 3.0 for lack of a better term, you can be assured that the students learning today will direct future changes through their participation digital learning communities; communicating, collaborating and creating in ways we can’t even imagine.
When it comes to learning beyond school, students have choices. In many cases, students are beginning to see school as less and less relevant to their learning. Many students are using or learning to use the technology tools I mentioned above to learn without us. If this trend continues, combined with classroom activities that for too many students are unengaging, unmotivating, and unchallenging, some predict that as students develop personal learning environments less connected to what schools currently offer them, schooling as we know it will become less and less relevant.
As educators we have choices. Some of us are choosing to ignore the technological changes and are continuing to teach the next generation of students, who are growing up in this digital revolution as its citizens, the way we have always taught students. Then again, some of us are attacking the changes, pointing out the dangers, working to persuade the world that they know best. “Students have not changed,” is a comment some educators use to reinforce their argument against changing teaching practice.
Understandably, the fear of change and the lack of support systems can make both these choices seem reasonable. The standards do not assess these technological changes. The curriculum does not acknowledge the changes. Our professional learning does not account for the changes. Our administrator and teacher evaluations do not include standards for evaluating the changes. Most educational leaders are unaware of many of the changes so they do not use the tools or even think of including mention of them in strategic planning documents.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I know “technology” is mentioned in these contexts, but not in significant, fundamental, all pervasive ways. The times we live in, the times that are shaping our children’s future, are not just different from the world we learned to navigate as successful adults and educators. Understanding the digital, participatory, global, complex, challenging, flat world we live is a little like understanding Parkour.
Just as Parkour throws the mind off balance ~ how could someone do something so dangerous? ~ the digital world represents a paradigm mind shift that most of us have little time, patience, or interest in understanding. At some level that reaction, as I explained above, is natural but also counter-productive to our mission to educate students in ways that engage them in their education so they develop the capacity to pursue their personal goals and life-long learning as autonomous, self-directed, confident participants in communities of learners.
In Times of Change
Eric Hoffer sums up our challenge.
Creative Commons Image Credits
Nourishment for Your Journey: A Few Learning Resources
If all we do is invest in the status quo, then we’ve missed this once-in-a-lifetime historic opportunity to give our children the education they desperately need and deserve.
It seems to me that for adults, the psychological grip of the status quo is usually stronger than their desire to learn. But I am convinced that when their desire to learn is ignited, anything is possible. If that’s the fact then the question is obvious.
Who will ignite the desire to learn in the adults today so they will ignite the desire to learn in our children tomorrow?
I wrote about investing in our children in an October 2007 a post, “Investing Our Wisdom in Their Potential.” In the post I wrote about efforts in Massachusetts to change the educational status quo. Unfortunately the status quo still reigns supreme despite a governor, a legislature and a professional coalition of educators supportive of the principles to challenge the status quo discussed in the post.
We have made a substantial investment in the status quo. I think about the children we have failed and will continue to fail until we embrace change and adopt the best of what we know about informed practice.
Have the times have changed enough for the post I wrote to have relevance? I have faith in the Obama administration. Can Arnie Duncan’s can spur the nation’s political leaders and all educators to do the right thing? Will we finally invest the wisdom of our profession in the potential of all children?
For a long time the educational knowledge base has shown us the ways to get it right for kids, but as a society, we have chosen to endorse policies and a status quo that fail our children each year. We are not engaging, challenging and inspiring our children to learn as we should be. The evidence is all around us. We need to acknowledge that and invest our professional wisdom in the potential of children!
Now is the time to admit that for every child every year is a once-in-a-lifetime historic opportunity.
Now is the time to admit that for every child and every community, for our nation and our planet every year we invest in the status quo is an historic lost opportunity.
Now is the right time to start the change. Now is the time to believe we can.
After I wrote this post today, I learned that President Obama spoke to the National Academy of Sciences this morning. After I listened to his speech, I realized this post was a prelude to the post I just wrote regarding the President’s comments about STEM eucation. Hence, ‘We’re Going to the Moon’: Part 1 and Part 2.
I’ve been thinking about when it will happen. When will the tide turn? The time when shall we, should we, must we change will no longer be the questions. It is coming, folks. Here are some images I’ve collected on the tipping point. I invite your comments. If you want to see a larger version of this VoiceThread, you can click here.
This is my first post on my new Edublog site. (I transferred my blogspot posts and comments to this site.) I thought it would be a fitting platform for announcing important news to all those who signed up as collaborators on the Learning Beyond Boundaries (LBB) Wiki. I hope to make a public announcement of this news at the Building Learning Communities Conference (BLC08) next week.
Part I – Come Collaborate with LBB Collaborators and ASCD Annual Conference Staff
The time has come to start developing the LBB collaboration with ASCD. I hope you will become an active participant in our effort.
Little did we know when we started the Learning Beyond Boundaries wiki that the vision several of us had at the time might have a chance of fruition. What would happen if we approached those responsible for ASCD’s Annual Convention and asked them to partner with interested educators in a discussion on how best to infuse learning about the read/write web 2.0 culture into the annual conference? The hope was that the ASCD staff would allow us a channel to bring the read/write web 2.0 culture to a broader audience of teachers and administrators. We wanted to break out of the echo chamber and come up with a strategy to help, not a few but, thousands of educators learn how the Internet can now be used as a tool to engage students and educators in powerful, substantive, self-directed learning.
The deadline we set for ourselves was May 5, 2008, the due date for ASCD’s 2009 Annual Conference presentation proposals. One hundred people signed up on the LBB Wiki endorsing the proposal we crafted to submit to ASCD’s Planning Committee. Here is the opening of that proposal, framed as an open letter to ASCD.
May 4, 2008
8:30 P.M. EDT
I am Dennis Richards, Massachusetts ASCD Affiliate President and ASCD Leadership Council member.
I represent a group of educators who have the expertise available through our extensive online Web 2.0 network of educator presenters to assist ASCD to fill a technology-rich strand at the 2009 Annual Conference.
Today we not only consume information from the Internet, we are contributors of information. All Internet participants have the potential to become teachers and producers of content as learning becomes personal, authentic, and highly individualized. Social software includes wikis, blogs, podcasts, instant messaging, and any system that allows communication that also emphasizes the richness of personal interaction instead of the technologies that make the interactions possible. The generations we teach now and will teach in the future innately use technology to communicate. The need for learning experiences to adapt to meet a new generation of learners is upon us.
Here is the full proposal; here is the current list of LBB collaborators. I have opened the wiki for now so other educators can join us. I expect to close it again on July 20, 2008. If you know people who may want to join us, please tell them to sign up on the collaborators’ page by that date.
Kathleen Burke, Director, ASCD Annual Conference, was very interested and accepted our offer as soon as I spoke to her the first week in May. At the time she said she hoped we would be willing to work on a three-year plan to educate ASCD’s membership to the read/write web 2.0 culture through the Annual Conference. I was extremely pleased, but I thought the 2009 conference would be year one. I expected Kathleen to get back to me soon so we could start planning. Then little communication until Thursday, July 11, 2008. Kathleen and her staff had been busy working on the details of the 2009 conference. In the meantime, some of us received notices that our workshop proposals were accepted. But what about our collaboration proposal that seemed stuck in limbo.
Well, yesterday Kathleen and I spoke, and now it is time to begin our work. More details are coming in the next few weeks, and Kathleen and I are open to any suggestions for content and process to further our goal of integrating technology seamlessly into learning for all students and educators.
Here is what Kathleen and I discussed over the cell phone yesterday as I traveled to Cape Cod in my car from Boston, Massachusetts. The wonders of technology… (No, I did not take notes while driving. Kathleen was kind enough to email me what we discussed.)
Pre Annual Conference – Fall of 2008
At Annual Conference – March 2009
This does not preclude LBB collaborators from working together this summer and throughout the year to prepare for more direct work with Kathleen and her staff. Let’s collaborate, contribute, and create through our LBB association in a way that will impress ASCD with our insight and experience, invent a whole new way of delivering our message to a broad audience of educators, and significantly transform the vision students and teachers have of learning spaces.
Leave your thoughts by commenting on this post.
Part II – October 1, 2008 Deadline for Educational Leadership – Literacy 2.0
On a related note, ASCD’s premier publication, Educational Leadership (EL), will publish a March 2009 Annual Conference edition in March on Literacy 2.0. Here is what they have online for the issue.
Students are more plugged into technology than they have ever been before–through smartphones, iPods, laptops, social networks, and electronic games. This issue will explore the role of literacy in our ever-evolving digital environment. How can we help students learn and transfer traditional literacy skills? What new literacy skills are called for—and how can students guide teachers in acquiring these key skills? How can we teach students to judge the reliability, accuracy, and quality of information? Articles will explore how wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, and portals of streaming media have affected how students read, write, speak, think, and work.
Deadline: October 1, 2008
I will be speaking with the editor about how we can help ASCD prepare for this issue, but here are some of my thoughts. You can collaborate by
Leave your thoughts by commenting on this post.
It has taken ten years of advocacy by colleagues throughout Massachusetts to achieve this reform package. I am proud of the role MASCD has played in shaping the agenda. Working together with hundreds of educators, business leaders, parents and politicians, we have come to a new day for children. The power to transform is with us; let us use it wisely. “It’s about all the kids!”
(Note: Pay particular attention to Goal 4: Innovation and Systemic Reform to Create a 21st Century Public Education System) Technical Help Request: Please comment on how to anchor this to the goal 4 section below if you know how. Thanks
Below is a communication I received from a colleague of mine in Massachusetts. I am the President of the Massachusetts Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (MASCD) and Mary Forte Hayes is the Executive Director. Yesterday Mary was at the Kennedy Library when Governor Deval Patrick announced the next generation of education reform. The last major educational reform in Massachusetts was in 1993.
It was an exciting day today (June 25, 2008) at the Kennedy Library, a perfect setting for the launch of a visionary plan for education in the Commonwealth. I was there, as were many education and policy leaders and friends of MASCD. The Governor unveiled his vision for education, which is a call to completely redesign the system as we know it. He kept repeating “Today is a new day,” with good effect, and with the backdrop of the wall of windows onto the blue sky and water of Boston harbor framing the skyline. The Governor stressed many times, as did Secretary of Education-designate Paul Reville, that “all children” means ALL. Paul Reville recapped details of the 10 year plan that have been shared over the past 2 days. There are some very bold actions included. They are consistent with our priorities and well-aligned with the Whole Child compact. See summary below, which I have taken from the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE). Thanks to MBAE for the timely summary.
Mary Forte Hayes
Ready for 21st Century Success
The New Promise of Public Education
Acknowledging that our schools “must ensure that high school graduates know and are capable of much more than ever before”, this report calls for transforming public schools over the next decade to meet the needs of current and future realities rather than perpetuate past practices that did not prepare all students for the demands of higher education and a technologically driven economy. With an unequivocal commitment to eliminating disadvantages based on socio-economic status, the proposed reform strategy focuses on four challenges:
International competition and an outdated curriculum
- Massachusetts must shift its focus from a 20th century approach to teaching to a modern curriculum that includes 21st century themes such as global and cultural competency, financial literacy, and other applied skills as well as strengthening content ranging from math, science, and world languages to social sciences and the arts.
A stubborn achievement gap – This can only be closed by acknowledging that children have different needs based on the advantages and obstacles they encounter outside of school. Public education must be coordinated with other social and health services so all children can meet high standards.
An education workforce crisis - Student achievement depends on teacher quality. The teaching profession has to be promoted as the critical and valuable vocation that it is in order to attract and retain outstanding candidates. The system for preparing, supporting and evaluating teachers must be comprehensively re-designed.
A century-old system - The system of standards and accountability instituted in 1993 has brought us far, but reaching the goal of bringing all students to proficiency requires a new, individualized approach. In an economy where the same skills are needed for college and for jobs at family-sustaining wages, it will take new, differentiated approaches to give all students what they need to succeed.
Read the Full Report
Four Goals of Action Agenda
Putting Children’s Learning Needs First
For each goal, the Patrick Administration has identified what will be achieved in the short (by 2011), mid (by 2015), and long(by 2020) terms to reach the stated vision. Details can be found at: http://www.mass.gov/governor/education
Goal 1: Raising Student Achievement
Key short term goals include increased support for early childhood education; an inter-agency Child and Youth Readiness cabinet; a pilot drop out prevention and intervention program for urban districts; Student Support Coordinators to link services for students in low-income schools; and a statewide data system that will provide a “Readiness Passport” to document all education and social service experiences received by every child.
Goal 2: Teachers and Education Leaders – Supported and Effective Educators
By 2011, establish differentiated pay for high-need locations and disciplines; pilot intensive induction and mentoring for new teachers; establish Readiness Science and Math Teaching Fellowship to increase supply of teachers in these fields; accelerate development of “real time” assessment data to support instruction; strengthen MCAS requirement with complementary measures of student growth and 21st century skills; build state capacity to attract and retain a highly competent, culturally diverse teaching force. Mid- and long-term actions would strengthen teacher preparation in several different ways and provide support for continued improvement at all education levels.
Goal 3: College, Career and Life Success
In addition to integrating 21st century skills into all aspects of public education; needs based financial aid would be increased; offer community college opportunities to early childhood educators and income-eligible parents; provide accelerated graduation and early college opportunities; allow in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants; build a school-to-college web portal; offer college readiness assessments to high school juniors; and guarantee transfer credit among public colleges and universities. In the longer term, additional initiatives to increase work and college readiness will be implemented, in some cases focused on students with specific needs.
Goal 4: Innovation and Systemic Reform to Create a 21st Century Public Education System
The Readiness School concept which has received much press attention is part of this goal, which would also establish a Readiness Finance Commission to recommend cost savings and efficiencies, potential sources of revenue, and options for a complete overhaul of the state’s education finance system. Other key features of this goal are expanding learning time both during out-of-school time and the summer; establishing a public-private Commonwealth Education Innovation Fund to foster innovation; expand student access to online learning; and provide other incentives and programs to use technology to improve teaching and learning.
Links to Subcommittee Reports and Video of Announcements
Above summary provided by MBAE, email of 6-25-08.
Thanks to Wesley Fryer’s post, Online kids are readers!, I learned about Scholastic’s reading report and about www.readthewords.com, a free website that allows me to upload a document that Read the Words then processes and reads back to me. I can turn it into an mp3 file or podcast that I can then post to my blog, wiki or website and sit back while the report is read to me in a voice I select. Enjoy this demo; you can download the PDF file of the report from the innovation3 box in the left column, courtesy of www.box.net.