This is the quote that first attracted my attention:
“… digital literacy across generations..”
I immediately thought of Ontario’s Renewed Vision for Education.
“Our children, youth and adults will develop the skills and the knowledge that will lead them to become personally successful, economically productive and actively engaged citizens. They will become the motivated innovators, community builders, creative talent, skilled workers, entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow.”
When children attend a school, their experiences should not be limited by the knowledge and skills of the adults in the building. The educators, as digitally literate, connected professionals, should be able to bring the world to the children.
[Edit: Please see the comment below suggesting a rephrasing of the above statement –
My thinking: “The educators, as digitally literate, connected professionals, SHOULD BE ABLE TO FACILITATE THE CHILDREN’S LINKING THEMSELVES TO THE WORLD.”]
The school building can be a community hub for all to access the world outside the community. This concept of connected learning is well-explained in the short video below.
The recent report (Driving the Skills Agenda) from The Economist states that only 44% of the students surveyed (ages 18-25) feel that schools are providing them with the skills they need to enter the workplace, and while teachers report that technology is changing the way they teach, 77% of students report that schools are not effective in using technology for instruction.
How, then, does Digital Literacy for all become an integral part of learning in our schools?
If we are educating learners in our communities to be full participants in society, digital literacy must become a priority.
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”.
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.
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.
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).
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.
3. If 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: Catherine Montreuil is now the Assistant Deputy Minister of Education, Learning and Curriculum – July 2015)
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.
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.
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!
Live-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.
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?
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.
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.