To start off day 2 +Mark Wagner asked us to consider a message that we would send from the future to today's teachers. My response is to continue to invest in Professional Development, continue to be in 'beta' with your adoption of educational technology and use these experiences to inform and evolve your practice.
Keynote speaker +Molly Schroeder talked about Google's philosophy to launch early and iterate. They are always in the 'beta' phase developing new products and new ways for people to use technology. Molly cited examples of newly released products like Google Glass and some they have decided to drop like Google Reader (no longer available after July 1st). This is inevitable and just means that they are moving on to something more innovative. All the steps are integral because they have led to the current stage of development. Google loves being in beta because this is the place where learning and growth happens.
I think that as educators we need to allow ourselves more time to be in 'beta' with respect to our instruction. The number and scope of Ministry and school board policies and initiatives sometimes makes it difficult. However, by investing this time in trying new approaches we will continue to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our students.
While I am learning a lot about technical tools and tips, the part that amazes me the most is the change in the approach to teaching that is required in order to leverage these tools to the maximum. Admittedly, this is a difficult shift for most educators to make. Trying new things means operating out of one's comfort zone and possibly making mistakes due to our lack of understanding or experience. I think Tim Lee's greenfield approach (a project which lacks any constraints imposed by prior work, source: wikipedia) to 'Re-designing your School technology around the Cloud' is the same approach we need to take towards our instruction. Innovative teaching lacks constraints imposed by prior instructional approaches.
We need to have the courage to try new things, new instructional practices, new technologies and to model this for our students. Below is the video on Moonshot thinking. The basic message is that 'we choose to do things because they are hard. We need to find what you are passionate about and not be afraid to take risks because that is what is required to solve the really big challenges.'
Molly said that we need to think about our students as being in beta. There is tremendous potential for them to learn and grow and that the focus should be on what they are going to do to find answers to questions and how they will represent the knowledge and skills they have acquired. We need to empower them to become active creators of knowledge by providing them with 'design challenges' that will allow them to flourish in beta.
They need to be involved in the process of understanding, building, designing and testing their ideas and to know why they are learning, much like the technology skills competition our students engage in every year. What if we allowed all of our students to participate in these kinds of projects on a regular basis throughout the school year. An excellent example of this is the 20% project. Make sure you watch the student testimonials about their final presentations on this project and why it is so important to them.
My subsequent blogposts will illustrate how I have begun to apply what I learned and experienced at this summit to my own professional practice. Specifically, I will demonstrate how I am using Google + Hangout to facilitate a #PLN around the planning and implementation of projects using Google docs to collaborate with my colleagues +Sylvia Duckworth and +Rolland Chidiac.