Why Do [Our Students] Need Connected Leaders?

This month, most of my writing time has been spent on a daily blog for OSSEMOOC, the project I co-lead with Mark Carbone in our current roles with OSAPAC in Ontario.

We say that “connected learners need connected leaders”.

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We work every single day trying to convince education leaders in Ontario that they need to become proficient in digital spaces and they need to become connected learners.

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Image shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License by Justice Beitzel.

Why do we say this?  Why are we so passionate about this work?

Why do we need educators to be connected leaders?

1.  Innovation isn’t cultivated through isolation.

Participating in open networks gives ideas opportunities to spread.  “Crowd Accelerated Innovation” is a concept explained by Chris Anderson in this TED Talk.  If we want to build innovative schools and systems in education, our leaders must be connected to the best ideas.

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2. Digital citizenship is not something to be taught in isolation as a “subject”.

Digital citizenship is a way of being, to be integrated into all that we do (@TanyaAvrith).

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Digital citizenship is part of who we are, and education leaders need an established positive digital footprint to fully understand this, and to embrace the digital world our students exist in.

3Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.55.10 PMIf you don’t understand the digital environment, you are becoming illiterate.  Doug Belshaw explains the essential elements of digital literacies in his TEDxTalk.

4.  Our learning community exists in BOTH physical and digital spaces.

This quote from Dr. John Malloy, currently the Director of Education for HWDSB, reminds us of the critical importance of choosing leaders with the capacity to make great decisions about student learning in both physical and digital spaces:

Using technology is no longer an option for us.  We must support our students to succeed in our physical and digital world.  

Students who do not have this opportunity to learn in the digital world will be disadvantaged, something that we cannot accept.”

UPDATE: Our learners, our audience and our community are in online spaces.  We need to be where they are.

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5. “Isolation is inconsistent with professional practice“.

Catherine Montreuil, Director of Education, BGCDSB, August 2014

(Update: Catherine Montreuil is now the Assistant Deputy Minister of Education, Learning and Curriculum – July 2015)

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We can’t just “close the door and teach” any more.  The smartest
person in the room is the room, unless someone in the room is a connected leader, and then it’s the world.  We need leaders who bring the world to their schools and districts.

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6. Connected learning must be modelled at all levels.

Today, it’s no longer about content.  It’s about networks.  Leaders need to model networked learning for teachers and students.  Connected leaders demonstrate that networking is a priority. We need to show our students what our learning looks like.  We need to demonstrate to teachers how we learn.  We need to share our thinking, leave it open to conversations, and let it be questioned.

7. As leaders, our professional portfolios should be ePortfolios, online where we can model this practice for others, and demonstrating how our work aligns with the Leadership Framework.  George Couros has written about this extensively.

8. We have a moral imperative to share.

Sometimes, leaders are very fortunate to be able to travel to a learning event such as a conference.  All that learning needs to be shared!

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 10.15.44 PMLive-tweeting at the event is a great start, but why shouldn’t everyone could benefit from your learning?  When you share the learning on your blog, it becomes searchable to everyone.  Educators from around the world now have free access to that learning.

If nobody shares, nobody learns!  Put Open and Access at the centre of your learning.

9.  As a connected leader, you bring a world of learning to your practice.

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If leaders aren’t learning online, how can they make good decisions around what technology to purchase with public funds, and what learning is required so the teachers can make effective use of technology for deep learning in their classrooms?

From the blog
From the blog “Principally Speaking”. Click on the image for the link.

Leaders must be participating in “deep learning” so they can understand what that learning looks like, and they can make valid, essential decisions about how to spend funds and time that are critical to moving learning forward.

Update: If leaders do not understand how technology can enable their learning to become a seamless part of their daily lives, they will not understand the importance of their students’ access to the tools for learning.

If you are not a connected leader, there is no better time to start!  OSSEMOOC shows you how in 10 minutes a day.

Update: 10. The End Game Keeps Changing: What’s an Education Worth Having in 2015?

Getting better at old strategies won’t work.  An education worth having in 2015 is not the same as an education worth having in 2000.  If the world is changing faster than the school system, the school system is doing an excellent job of moving toward irrelevance.

Here is some further thinking on this idea: https://fryed.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/whats-an-education-thats-worth-having/

Update: 11: Connected Leaders Drive Student Achievement

Student achievement is impacted by connected leadership.  The connections are explained here.

Resources:

Social Media Trends – September 2015

A Wake Up Call for School Leaders: Eric Sheninger

Digital Literacies (Connected Principals)

Innovation and Intellectual Collisions – Bill Ferriter

5 Reasons why Your Portfolio Should be a Blog – George Couros

A Rich Seam – Michael Fullan

The Power of Professional Capital – Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan

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7 thoughts on “Why Do [Our Students] Need Connected Leaders?”

  1. Donna, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post and couldn’t agree with you more! It is up to all educators to model positive digital citizenship in our daily lives, both within the walls of the classroom and beyond. During a recent #geniushour chat, I tweeted: ‘I believe, with tech and soc media the world can literally be our Ss stage. It is our job to teach them how to use it for good!”
    To model this idea to my students, I have recently started a “Genius Hour” project of my own, with the leading question being ‘How can my actions make a difference in the world?” The project has been a phenomenal learning experience for the whole class (me included) where I’m demonstrating that technology and social media, when used with thought, forward thinking and an intention to share and do good, can help to have a positive impact on the world! The project, which now has become OUR Give4ChristmasChallenge https://give4christmaschallenge.wordpress.com project has been viewed in 40 countries by 3200 people. One of my students many take aways… “If you don’t have anything nice to tweet (FB,text, etc) don’t tweet it at all.”

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  2. Donna, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post and couldn’t agree with you more! i want to cite Dr John Malloy in my dissertation. Do you perhaps have a date for his quote that you mentioned in your blog post and where he said it or wrote it. thanks judy dasruth

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    1. Hi Judy;

      Yes, John gave us permission to use that quote in our advertising for #ossemooc. It came from several of his presentations – at NOEL in Thunder Bay and eLearning Ontario in Toronto (2014), but also from a vision document he did when he was Director at HSCSB. I don’t see that document online any more, but you can see similar thinking on his blog here https://johnmalloy.ca/ and in his report here: http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/meetings/Standing-Committee-Agenda-1395341193.pdf

      I hope that is helpful. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      Like

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