Calling all brains
I’m asking for your help. If you could pick anyone, anything, or anyplace, What books would you read? What conferences, workshops, or meetings would you attend? Who would you travel to meet with? Who would you fly in to sit at the table with you? Who would you pick to help you in your strategic brainstorming or planning? Who could help inject progressive, innovative ideas about the future of education and the technologies that will drive it? Anyone. Yes, I am serious.
This post is a straightforward attempt to leverage the power of my PLN. It is my goal to get some fresh input about that very thing… fresh input. As a generalist instructional coach on what could realistically be called a “21st Century upgrade” mission in my building, I have spent countless hours in research this past year. In fact, this blog originated from some of my earliest explorations into how a school can systematically raise the tech literacy of its staff ahead of a larger edtech implementation with students.
Here’s the deal
I am pleased to say that I work in a district with some success in incubating innovation. We locally help to fund innovation with a fantastic “Apple Seed” grant program for creative projects. We also celebrate ingenuity with an “Innovator of the Year” award- presented alongside the T.O.Y. award each year. On a district wide level, our administrators in charge of curriculum & instruction are working hard to implement constructivist-leaning instruction and content-specific best practices.
In my opinion, we have long lacked such a mandated, district level approach to educational technology integration. We invested early in a robust and speedy system-wide fiber optic network. We have always succeeded in putting current, state of the art technological tools in the hands of our children. What we now recognize the need for, is an innovative and comprehensive plan to elevate the technological savvy of all SJSD faculty members. 21st Century literacy skills (whatever you think those might be) cannot be developed in our children by skipping over our staff to do so. We are ready to do the staff development required in readying our own workforce… to ready those of the future.
A district task force was assembled to study the situation. Our group consists of three instructional coaches, one social studies teacher, a library/media specialist, our district’s technology curriculum specialist, and our chief operating officer. We have been told that we are “taking one year to study.” One year to learn everything we can about what the future of learning will look like- at least with regard to information and communication technologies. Experimentation with free online technologies has been spawned and is growing in a grassroots way in a few places already. My home high school actually has a building-wide implementation plan that was put into play this past summer.
The goal is to get just enough perspective about what we are currently doing… and what we still need to do… before making any more large scale technology purchases. The idea is to put the “buy it and they will come” -approach to edtech integration to bed for good. This task force is headed by our C.O.O. He is a direct sitting member of our superintendent’s council. This level of buy-in is aligned what I had in mind when I wrote a post entitled “Increasing Our Level of Vitamin A” last November. We are really to the point in our little corner of the world where we need to think long and hard about our mission and vision prior to buying even one more laptop. Smart move, methinks. And this mission had better be flexible. Life moves pretty fast in these circles.
Why should you care?
I don’t know if I can say why you should care about a project in Missouri. However, I do believe I know why you will. Because you are a bunch of committed, forward-thinking educators. Folks like us know the power of buy-in at all levels of implementation. Here’s betting that the readers of this blog realize the power potential of solid know-how combined with administrative support.
Please help. I could submit my own recommendations. I essentially do that quite regularly behind the driver’s seat of this blog. The articles I write examine interesting avenues and advocate passionate positions. My blogroll is a list of folks I rely on for new learning. I have a set of books on my shelf that were important to me, but really… the elements of my learning network allow it to be a dynamic, hyper-responsive, thing. There is even a pretty good chance you came here from the Twitterverse- and that has become a frighteningly good resources as of late.
We are locked and loaded for NECC 2009. We are set for a sit-down at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino this March. We recently sent a small contingent to METC 2009 for a last minute look at a few of the presenters. We are ready to grab a few keystone texts for the group to dive into. We are ready to visit the top workshops available where our learning/time ratio will be strongest.
We are going to take a slow, smart, focused look at this issue. I can make informed suggestions as it is. Yet- this post marks one of the ways I am increasingly gaining input. Here’s betting that an emerging best practice in “informed decision making” includes surveying your PLN as an crucial step. What do you say… will you make a suggestion for our study?Artwork thanks: *Fisketur by ergates on Flickr *MacBook Pro Inside Out by Christoph*B on Flickr *Focus by ihtatho on Flickr *Speed Writing by margot.trudell on Flickr