Greg Farr’s post on LeaderTalk a couple of days ago resonated on a couple of levels, but none more than his reference to reframing the timeframe:
As I visited with staff and friends, it became increasingly apparent that I need to adjust my whole sense of timing on this. A fair analogy would be to say that as I plan for implementation of Everything 2.0, I want to use a stopwatch. But my staff wants to use a calendar.
I really enjoyed the way he made his own thinking transparent…his struggles are obvious.
But as I try to get used to life off the road for the next five weeks, I keep wondering. What’s the best way for us to define where we’re trying to get? Framing it in the context of schools? Of our own learning? Of the global shifts? All?
And more interestingly, I think, is do we really have a calendar’s worth of time to figure it out?
Jane Perzyk says
While we might be stopwatch people because we see the urgency for our students, I sometimes think that from a larger viewpoint we are dwelling in some kind of Web2.0 vacuum or bubble. The recent Pew Internet and American Life Project Report, “A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users,” bears this out, commenting that “. . . 8% (of us) are avid participants in all that digital life has to offer.” http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/213/report_display.asp
I think you MUST have a calendar approach if you want systemtic change that is meaningful and lasting. Real change is not a stopwatch event. It requires thinking, planning, getting people on board, professional development, modeling, change to infrastructure, rethinking scheduling. It’s fine to want change overnight, but it has been my experience that change arrive at that way is usually not ultimately of the value it purports to be. That’s how you get podcasting-to-impress by new or bored teachers who either don’t know how or don’t bother to align their technology use effectively to goals and standards.
This view all over the edublogger sites about the critical moment that may pass if we don’t all hurry and do something, seems more to me like the impatience of the devotee. Bringing new technologies to teaching is important yes.. but it’s important that we do it right. The people who invented the tools we rush to use came out of this “antiquated” system of education that is so yesterday. Therefore, it is accurate to say that everything new is derived from the original system, and therefore … there must be something valuable in it… structures, habits of mind, fundamental skill building that is useful no matter what field you go into or what new thing comes next.
Without a respect for and an understanding of the value of certain basic foundational structures, infusion of web 2.0 technologies will result in empty surface experiences and a misguided attitude that technology replaces skill base education with itself.
Fuzzy thinking that characterized a lot of the summercamp education that caused the NCLB fiasco we live with now came out of a misapplication of educational theories and a complete rejection of basic principles. Layering on web 2.0 frenzy without thoughtful consideration = the same error twice over. Why bother learning a skill like revising your work, when you can learn a skill like podcasting about your favorite rap star and what difference does it make if you misspell basic words and say very little about the new technology you’re reviewing, if you do it for a world audience? Suddenly, the tool makes you the trendsetter, rather than the skillful application of the tool. I’ve listened to podcasts of high school student poetry that was abysmally bad and demonstrated that someone knew how to podcast, but no one ever gave the students the tools to actually write a decent poem. (“I love Jamaica. It’s my favorite island. I like the blue water.. etc.”) I’ve seen online magazines by students where misspellings were everywhere (can you say spellcheck before uploading?) and the reviews of new technologies were limited, poorly written, shallowly researched. In short, the only focus was the new technology.
The investment in aligning to standards, bringing people on board, committing fully to a real education is what you get from a carefully planned approach that uses multiple years to achieve a well thought out goal. It is superior in intent and outcome to the panicky, we have to hurry, run get your avatar approach. And no one has to mumble about how you can’t actually evaluate web 2.0 work by the archaic and meaningless standards of the past… because the battle was fought on all fronts, not just on glitz row.
Randy Rodgers says
I have the privilege of working with Greg. His enthusiasm is a dream for me. He is the embodiment of what I would like to see for every administrator that I have the opportunity to share my own excitement with. We have spoken on several recent occasions about the best ways to get his staff on board, and I think we are missing the key point: Web 2.0 tools will do much of the work themselves!
I have presented blogs, podcasting, wikis, and other Web 2.0 tools to a relatively small number of teachers at this point. The response has been thrilling, however. All who have been exposed to the tools are excited and enthused by them. Several have leaped in head-first, doing things that have amazed me in a matter of weeks, not months or years. The key has been showing them the possibilities, training them on the basics of a few, then encouraging them to explore. Teachers want to be innovative and to provide meaningful content, but they simply aren’t receiving the means to do so through far too many teacher training sessions. Give them the chance to be on the cutting-edge, and they will seize it, and they will do so (for the most part) faster than we often give them credit for. I’ve already learned a great deal from several teachers and Greg, and all I had to do was start the engine!
Scott McLeod says
We know that human beings generally need a calendar approach to change. We have individual and organizational learning curves to navigate and those processes simply take time. That said, the challenge is that the world and technologies around us are changing so fast that it seems like they’re on a stopwatch pace. So we constantly feel this pressure that the progress gap is widening, not closing, because as individuals and organizations we feel we simply can’t keep up.
Now the question is, are other organizations keeping up better than schools / educators? If so, what allows them to do so (i.e., what is education lacking that it needs?)? If not, what are we sweating about?