Has the Road to Innovation and Change Become Smoother?
What has changed in 6 years? This summer I am changing jobs and will be exploring with a new staff pedagogical shifts, technology integration, and the NETs for students, which are key components in a rigorous, relevant curriculum. These discussions of course do not only happen once and they must be collaborative and collegial in order to develop a common vision and language. But in considering the starting point for this conversation it seems important to consider where the conversation began before and what is different now. It was just a little over 5 years ago that the story of the red paper clip was a hot topic and it was something that I shared with the faculty where I worked. It helped us understand the power of living in a connected world. At the same time we watched the video of Thomas Friedman's lecture at MIT on his then relatively new book The World is Flat. Both of these helped us discuss change. What should be done to help students understand and participate in this changing world? Knowing how and what to do was where things became difficult.
At that time the move toward global collaboration, student blogs, and adopting web 2.0 tools was still somewhat uncharted territory. The potential and importance were clear but the best practice and the details were still being worked out. It required someone to step up and take on the responsibility for paving the way, making connections with global educators, teaching the faculty tools and modeling lessons. Systemic change requires strong initiative and leadership. Even when the faculty shared the vision they were often truly digital immigrants and lack of adequate time-(time to learn, time to find resources, time to figure out what was important) was always an issue. Time will always be a finite but now almost six years later things have changed. There are structures and resources in place that may make the transitions much easier.
Looking ahead to my new position and attending ISTE with the principal who has taken on my former school gave focus to our conversations and to the sessions we attended. While building a collaborative vision is and always will be the place change begins it became clear that the next steps were much more clearly defined. It is no longer necessary "to invent the wheel" many of the pioneers and great minds are giving away freely their models, wisdom and experience. In addition it seems that there is a much clearer vision of the pedagogy and model of education that will empower the students to become effective and productive citizens in a digitally connected world.* Certainly there are differing opinions about the details but it is not the unpaved path it was 6 years ago.
Global collaboration, digital citizenship, digital literacy, innovative and creative problem solving, connecting with information and experts, and making real content contributions are all reflective of the kinds of learning that are empowered by technology. They are all reflective of the revised Bloom's Taxonomy and NETs and they are all keys to creating empowered and productive citizens. Addressing these concepts was a daunting task 6 years ago. Today there are models of global collaboration like the Flat World project which provides a framework and a model. Meaning we do not have to work in a vacuum and struggle with questions like these-
How do you manage it?
How do you connect it with your standards and curriculum?
Ensuring access to up to date information in a world where knowledge and information has far outpaced our textbooks has also been streamlined to help teachers find a door in with Google advanced search, Google custom search and products like netTreker. If creativity and innovation are hard concepts to grasp the Constructivist Consortium provides lots of resources and ideas.
What has changed? Maybe it is my perspective but I think the road to change is smoother now. The focus is not on the tools but on where we are going and what we are doing. My focus will be on global and expert collaboration, accessing information, creativity and real content creation. What are you doing?
By Barbara Barreda
* You might want to watch this talk by Chris Lehman and read this report to better understand how the vision of the pedagogy and model of education that will empower the students to become effective and productive citizens in a digitally connected world is being expressed now