I still remember the first time I used a digital camera. A Sony Mavica with a floppy disk for storage. The ability to take a photo, insert a disk into your computer and be able to view the image was magic. From the time I began my journey with educational technology in the late 1990s until my first iPhone in 2008, I had so many of these moments of magic. Building my first website, making and editing video, video conferencing, publishing tools, blogs and early social media were examples of new and shiny tools and software that captured my imagination and opened my eyes to endless possibilities, joy and yes even delight.
Then things plateaued. Not that tech was stagnant but I now lived in a world where I expected things to change and improve. As an early adopter to so many tools I also began to see that for all the new technology we were given, it wasn’t making the difference in our lives I had once hoped it would. Add to that the growth of mobile technologies in particular and its impact on our attention seemed to diminish many of the really powerful things that computers can do … Read the rest
Remember the first time you used PowerPoint? Being able to take some written content and magically have it include images (likely clipart), have it spin around and transition to the next slide with glitter or swivel? Admit it. The very first time you thought it was pretty cool. You may have even had your class do a report with the tool and had kids stand up in the front of the class as their presentation was displayed on a projector screen. I will timidly raise my hand and admit I did it. There was a moment when I thought these presentations by my students represented quality work. However, soon after the shininess of the tool wore off, it was clear that their actual work wasn’t any different. Adding an animated flag of Canada to a slide telling me its population was 37 million didn’t represent anything more than a student’s ability to copy and paste and insert. What surprised me was how long this facade of quality work lasted. Many teachers, years later still had students creating presentations that underscored a lack of depth and creativity but were disguised, and by this time, not so cleverly with copyrighted images and … Read the rest
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As a parent of 4 adult children, I have witnessed a reoccurring conversation, particularly from about ages 17-25. This is a significant time of transition for everyone as we move from high school to college to employment. There are a number of stepping stones during that time that is often seen as barriers to overcome. Whether it’s graduating, passing a difficult course or finding new living quarters or applying for a job, these all cause a great deal of stress and while in the middle of them, my kids will say something like, “things will be better when I get through this.” While it’s understandable and relatable, I was quick to remind them all that they needed to be careful not to wish these moments away. Many times these barriers were just that, they were in the way of a goal. Applying for jobs for example is not something anyone likes but it’s necessary. Taking a difficult course, while perhaps seen as just a barrier, hopefully, has some relevant and useful learning to be savoured. While this time of life might contain more change and disruption than … Read the rest
I had the privilege of sharing a session last month called “The Future of Professional Learning” based on these previous blogposts. Admittedly I’m still parsing out in my own mind these thoughts and this session was an opportunity to clarify my own thinking but will continue to evolve.
I’m not typically a big graphics guy but created these two images that I believe help to identify what the specific benefits are of both online and in-person professional learning. While some might argue that this is true for all learning, I do believe there are some significant differences between adult/professional learning and learning as it pertains to school and children. First, adults are there most often by choice. While there is still some obligatory professional learning, adults have more choices than most children. Secondly, adult learning differs from development learning and finally and I think most often overlooked is in most professional learning settings, the opportunity to build and create community is difficult in that we aren’t together daily and in the case of many elementary students for entire days on end. This means relationships, which are the foundation for school learning, will not play the same role. Each … Read the rest
No matter who you are or where you’re from, this pandemic has done some damage. It’s by no means the same for all of us and I count myself as one of the fortunate ones in so many respects. Yet even as fortunate as I am, every once in a while I find myself going down the rabbit hole of despair. Whether it’s the implications of the pandemic, political unrest, the rise of conspiracy theories, racial injustices, climate change and the list goes on. Then there are the stories of friends and connections who have been hit hard by these things and it becomes more personal. Some days any of these issues weigh heavy and depending on who you are listening to, reading or watching, it can make these seem insurmountable. You can certainly make the case that these issues are unresolvable and over time that mindset and consumption of fear and dread can lead anyone into some level of depression.
It’s partly due to our extra time to linger and wade in murky waters of sadness and negativity and partly due to the endless stream of voices more than willing to feed your fears, it’s at times difficult to … Read the rest