We have come a long way in Ontario from the idea that eLearning required a “learning management system” to deliver content, to the understanding that building relationships is at the centre of all learning (f2f or at a distance).
As we work with eLearning teachers through their collaborative inquiries into best practice, I often wonder about how best to “spread” some of the great online pedagogy I see around the province.
Then yesterday, I saw this tweet:
It’s a quick post, an idea that came out of some work with #GEDSBLead, and a great catalyst for sharing, connecting and elevating online learning.
So what if we change this a bit? What if every eLearning teacher tweeted one thing they did each day in their online “classroom” to the hashtag #eLonted – and then took 5 minutes to read each others’ tweets?
We know that connecting online educators works. We know that networking online educators is essential. We know that eLearning teachers want to share their practice.
In Ontario we know we have pockets of excellence when it comes to Technology-enabled learning and teaching.
When I refer to “pockets of excellence”, I mean schools and classrooms where learning to do this, digging into doing this well, and supporting the understanding of how learning needs to change to meet the realities of today’s world, are front and center in their thinking and sharing.
Progress in improving learning and instruction through the use of technology is not “by chance” in these spaces. This is where communities are working hard and inviting input into figuring it all out.
The work of eLCs in Ontario has shifted significantly this year into a leadership role in boards to enable a better understanding of how we can use technology to enhance learning and teaching. As we worked to build capacity/capital in the eLC community, engaging them in conversations and learning with these ‘pockets of excellence” became a priority.
Last week, many of the northern eLCs (Thunder Bay Region, Sudbury-North Bay Region, Barrie Region) went on a “field trip” to do school and classroom visits.
Their generous hosts from Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, and Trillium Lakelands District School Board were as follows:
Ancaster Senior Public School, HWDSB (Principal Contact – Lisa Neale)
Innovation Centre (Holbrook School) HWDSB (Teacher contact – Zoe Branigan-Pipe)
Dr. J. Edgar Davey Elementary School, HWDB (Teacher contact – Aviva Dunsiger)
The Virtual Learning Centre, TLDSB (Principal contact – Peter Warren)
Special thanks to host eLCs:
Paul Hatala (HWDSB)
Jeremy Cadeau Mark (TLDSB)
The connections, the conversations, the learning and the sharing were incredibly rich. The eLC visitors and the host schools have been sharing their learning through their blogs. Some of these are posted below (eLCs/hosts: please contact me when you have more visible thinking to add to this list).
Last evening we had a rich conversation in the #OSSEMOOC open mic around why educators are not blogging.
1. Not enough time.
Educators are the hardest working people I know, hands down. No contest. They would NEVER think of not preparing for classes or not providing feedback on student work.
Isn’t blogging and sharing and reflecting just as important? How long does it take to share a few thoughts online? How long does it take to upload a file to share?
2. Fear of judgment.
Creating a safe environment for risk-taking is a classroom priority. Why do we make it hard for our colleagues to share their practice? Do our students feel they will be judged when we ask them to share? How do we model to our students that learning and sharing and growing together is a valuable use of our time?
It won’t surprise anyone that I am a strong proponent of digital professional portfolios. I demonstrate how to create them here, and over the past year, George Couros has worked with Principal Associations in Ontario (CPCO/OPC/ADFO) to help our school leaders become connected learners, including the idea of using a blog as a portfolio.
I’ve bought into this hook, line and sinker.
I exude visible thinking, open learning, reflective practice, and I promote it in professional practice with every breath.
I know, you’ve heard enough.
So I have to ask, then, if I am wrong? Is it actually a disadvantage to have a digital portfolio?
Because right now, it really feels like it is.
Let me explain.
Over the past three years, I have sat through a number of professional interviews, on both sides of the table. I don’t hear any questions about connected learning, open professional practice, or Professional Learning Networks being asked. Ever.
I have yet to hear a single question about how an interviewee models the learning we want to see in the classroom.
I have never heard a question about whether the interviewee blogs or sees any value in blogging.
I have not heard a whisper of any competencies around modern learning or 21C practices.
As the person being interviewed, I have watched eyes glaze over at the mention of anything digital. Anything.
What’s going on here? I hear everywhere how TELT (Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching) is a priority in this province, how the renewed vision for excellence is all about creating global citizens and digital leaders for this changing world.
And we are doing this – very well in fact. We have absolutely amazing learning happening in schools. Teachers in Ontario are world leaders in modern pedagogical practice. We KNOW what TELT looks like at the level of the student desk because that is what we are doing every single day as we connect and share and challenge each other to keep getting better at it.
Teachers are flocking to edcamps and Twitter chats, taking charge of their own professional learning and busting out of the model that says learning has to be provided and into the culture where learning is sought.
Educators are flattening the organization. Principals are not “instructional leaders” any more, they are co-learners, because the real learning at all levels is happening where the students are learning, not in a banquet hall in a Toronto hotel.
This is absolutely the most exciting time to be in education. The shift is palpable and visible in classrooms.
When we think about spreading excellence and adapting best practices, we need to stop thinking exclusively about horizontal spread.
How do we spread digital leadership, open reflective practice, networked learning and the modelling of 21C (modern learning) competencies vertically in our education system?
Until we can do that, Digital Portfolios will continue to be invisible.
Last evening we brought education leaders together in our regular Tuesday evening #OSSEMOOC open mic session. We discussed some current issues in professional learning, using many of the questions from Professional Learning Conversations at #Educon 2.7 as a guide. Here is a summary of the conversation in Ontario. Please join in by adding your thoughts to the comments section in this blog, or to the original post here: https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/thinking-about-professional-learning/
If you were not able to join us live this evening, we will post a recording of our conversation. Here is a summary of some of the thinking we shared, and some of the questions that arose from the discussion. Please feel free to continue the conversation in the comments.
I’m not sure we answered any of the questions we used as provocations this evening, but the discussion was rich, and it led to more questions.
We began with this question:
“How does a shift occur from a mindset where learning is provided to a culture where learning is sought?”
This applies to students and teachers. It’s a big shift! But we are seeing a critical mass now believing that this must go forward. Consider this link shared this evening: http://mltsfilm.org/
Today I was fortunate to be part of a group of Ontario leaders* learning through a series of webcasts sponsored by CPCO/ADFO/OPC. George Couros returned to talk further about how we can use blogs as a personal portfolio.
I was particularly interested in the kinds of questions people were asking about blogging, and how we might be able to provide some more robust responses without the time constraints of the webcast.
3. Aren’t you afraid of making your opinions public and then having them online forever?
Why not start with blogging facts instead of opinions? When we scaffolded the blogging process for Ontario leaders last year, we asked them to simply share, “What did you learn today?“. Are you reading a book? Share what you are reading. Did you go to a conference, or sit through a webinar? What did you learn? There is nothing controversial about simply sharing what you learn with others.
*NOTE: Nicole Hamilton wrote this post last night after attending an OSSEMOOC open mic session. It is the story of her learning at the session. If we all told the stories of our learning, imagine how much more learning everyone would have access to!
4. How do you possibly have enough time in the day to do this?
Do you have 10 minutes to devote to your own personal growth? OSSEMOOC has a series devoted to becoming a connected leader in only 10 minutes a day. Start here, and stick with it!
5. How do we get more followers?
Write your blog for yourself. Post your learning so that it is searchable. You will never lose your notes again! Then, share it with OSSEMOOC to post on our site, and share it through other social media.
6. How do I keep my blogging from becoming essay-writing?
Check out other blogs. See what style works for you. You can see school and system leader and teacher blogs on the OSSEMOOC website - all in one place.
Leaders in the webcast were also asked these questions. What do you think?
*leader in the informal sense of the word, not the formal “title”. If you are working to move your practice forward in education and to model the learning you want to see, you are a leader. Some questions about the use of the term “instructional leader” can be found here.
She challenges us to think about positive thinking as a number of different activities instead of just one way of being.
Sometimes, we think very positively about an upcoming event because we have had similar success in the past. This type of thinking is based on reality, and it often results in better outcomes because it is a motivating factor.
However, having positive daydreams about upcoming events is linked to poorer outcomes. Positive daydreaming can lead to relaxation. Professor Oettingen suggests that people who frequently use positive daydreaming as a strategy, convince themselves that they are fine, and they don’t take the necessary steps to move forward in achieving their goals.
“Mental contrasting“, however, is a technique that can lead to successfully achieving some goals, while letting go of goals that you will not be able to achieve. The important factor is building close connections between your current reality and your goal as well as your current reality and identified obstacles, and what is needed to overcome the obstacles.