Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Telling Stories

At NECC 2007 I had the opportunity to sit at the Drexel Online Booth to promote the new Learning Technologies Masters program. It was interesting to me how many people came up to the booth just to share their Drexel story. The more questions you asked, the more you could learn about them. It is a good example of how people just want to connect to other people.

I think we need to think of more ways for people to share their stories...maybe that should be my ning. For right now, I will just quietly think about it and listen to others tell their stories and watch the Classroom 2.0 ning. I am currently multi-tasking, blogging while I am attending a Birds-Of-A-Feather Open Source/Web 2.0 session at NECC. People are sharing lots of great stories here. It is great stuff but almost information overload at the same time. For some of the best Web 2.0 tools, check out the Classroom 2.0.net wiki website. I'm off to go explore some of these tools and listen to the stories!

Have you connected with someone and told a story to today?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Let them Bring It!

I am an avid reader of the GLEF website and newsletter. The newsletter I got today had two great articles in it. One of them reminded me of an idea that I have about how to change the funding for technology in schools. I have shared it with a few of my colleagues (most who say it will never work) and it sounds a bit crazy, but it just might get us moving ahead at a faster pace with technology.

What if... we let the students who "have" bring the technology in...and then focus our efforts as a school district on funding technology for those who "have not." In my past experience of being a Palm Education Training Coordinator, I remember hearing Elliott Soloway talk at a conference about the fact that the reason handhelds in education work so well with students is because students take personal ownership of them. I believe he mentioned that in his Detroit Inner-City Handheld Project he only had 5% loss. Amazing!! GLEF asked students what they wanted to see in the classroom and they listed the following; laptops, blue tooth technology, cell phones, digital cameras, graphing calculators, Nintendo DS, video cameras, flash drives, universal remotes, iPods and SIMS (full article). Don't students have many of these items at home, probably even their own? How many of you work in places where these items have been banned?!

Of course, this idea would take some planning and policy setting, however, I think sometimes we make it more complicated than it needs to be. I would like to quote a colleague of mine, a high school principal, on the topic of allowing iPods and cell phones in school, "there are 150 ways students can do damage with a pencil, but we seem to have be able to get that under control so why not technology?!"

The difference with technology is that it is changing all the time...changes make people uneasy. Compared to technology, the changes a pencil has seen in the last 100+ years are relatively simple. Why we don't limit students to only yellow #2 pencils anymore? More importantly, don't we let students bring pencils to school?

To appreciate the difficulty that teachers face when presented with the idea of changing their pedagogy to be problem-based, student centered with technology infused as a tool, take a minute and read Jim Moulton's blog entry about change! It should humble you and help you appreciate what we are asking teachers to do, and if nothing else, it should make you chuckle!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Going Outside to Get In...

I have learned that in closed systems, people become frustrated and hungry to the point of starving for connections and for information! I think the true definition of a closed system should also somehow involve the word insanity! If we are not willing to let new ideas *IN* or let people *OUT* to have new experiences, how will we ever grow? If the only reinforcement of ideas is from within, the message doesn't change and most likely, those in the having the conversation won't change either.

Today I started a new conversation in our district between librarians, technology teachers , technology coordinators and some who also fulfill the role of webmaster. We brainstormed about the cross overs, specialties and the potential for collaboration. Unfortunately, due to summer scheduling, the groups will barely cross paths in person due to the nature of trying to get busy people together. Fortunately, we will be able to use Moodle to create a virtual conversation. The challenge of all of the groups will be to open their minds to new ideas about working together. It will begin by communicating with the groups about the scope and seqence of each other's curriculum, something they have never seen. It also involves appreciating the perspecitve of two very different mind sets, the digital natives and the digital immigrants, however, should'd we also add the digital refugee??!! Interesting and mind boggling...baby steps...but, baby steps are still steps!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Before you can change it...

It occurred to me that before you can change a discussion, you first have to have one to change! Seems simple. In preparing for my upcoming presentations at NECC I have been going back to my research on change. One of my favorite writers on this subject is Margaret Wheatley. In her 2002 book entitled Turning to One Another, she talks about starting conversations. Specifically, "if we want to change the conversation, we have to change who's in the conversation" (Wheatley, 2002). In one of her most recent articles, she talks about large scale change happening as emergence and beginning with local actions.

Locally, next week Drexel's School of Education is holding their First Annual Leadership Conference entitled"Collaborative and Sustainable Leadership: From ONE of us to ALL of us." I believe it is places like this that local conversations, discussions and networks can start! I will be starting a conversation with two of my colleagues on system-oriented leadership at that conference. If you don't have anything to do on Saturday, June 23 at 2 pm, why don't you join our conversation!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Changing the Discussion

Today I joined my first ning. I have not yet started a blog or a wiki because until today, I had not figured out what to focus on or what cool title to use. Having finished my dissertation research last year, I wanted to take a year off to read and observe others but not necessarily write. In thinking about how to introduce myself on the ning I realized what I really want to focus on (at least for now) is changing the discussion about educational technology...in other words, changing the WAY we talk about technology integration. Others are starting to talk about it also. Not talking about the STUFF (hardware) but the PROCESS of utilizing tools to create more student-centered learning environments. Those of you who know me know that I embrace change as well as discussion so it seemed only fitting that I would create a blog combining the two! : )