OSSEMOOC – a community of leaders supporting each other in getting connected.
Digital Citizenship and Leadership for the Classroom
Recently, Ontario educators identified the need for resources for teaching the various aspects of Digital Citizenship. When OSAPAC looked for a suitable product, it was decided that a living resource was most appropriate. Ontario educators curated suitable resources for Ontario students by organizing them by division and topic. Then, they wrote classroom connections for teachers.
The full, open, living resource can be found here.
Educators choose a category and a division, and are then provided with a list of appropriate resources.
For example, Critical Thinking, Junior Division
As well, many classroom connections have been written to guide educators in using resources.
OSSEMOOC was created to scaffold and support school and system leaders in their personal self-directed professional learning about how to leverage technology to enhance and enrich student learning.
The open (no password required, no sign up required) site has a content area where information is shared about events (live chats, Twitter chats, livestreaming conferences, GHO on air, blog hops, collaborative projects, book studies, etc.).
Blogs written by school and system leaders and aspiring leaders are linked to the site.
Courses on how to use social media are run regularly, and can also be completely self-directed.
Links to other OSSEMOOC social media are on the site as well as our 30 days to get connected in 10 minutes per day program.
Be sure to access these free, open, no password required resources.
Contact ossemooc at gmail dot com for more information on free personal support services for education leaders.
Feature image by OSAPAC.ca, under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 licence.
As education leaders, how do we convince our parent communities, our Trustees, our students themselves, of this (7)?
Because this really is the most important measure of accountability isn’t it? That this school, this system, is the very best place for your child to learn on this day (4), and this school and this system is innovating in every way possible to ensure your child’s gifts are uncovered, nurtured, scaffolded and unleashed.
Mary Jean Gallagher tells us that schools must be places where children can realize their “best possible, most richly-imagined future” (Jan. 17, 2014, Toronto)
As an education leader (6), what compelling arguments do you have for the innovative practices – foreign to parents who experienced the linear, industrial model of school – being used to personalize learning for their child?
We know that compelling arguments are a critical first step for change. Without compelling arguments (2), traditionalists will shut down, stop listening (3), move on down the same path of a system that produces a ranking of individuals, filtering those who are different out of the picture.
Do you talk to parents about how the popular narrative that “robots are taking over the world” isn’t something they can just ignore any more, that good jobs really have already disappeared offshore and to automation through robotics and 3D printers (5)? This is why we educate our students to take advantage of the cognitive opportunities that arise when menial work becomes mechanized and digitized.
Perhaps the argument that the school system as they knew it, did not achieve positive outcomes for all children, and that disengagement (1) in secondary school is a national tragedy that must be changed, would resonate with your community.
Perhaps the democratization of the system is most important – creating a school community where all members have voice and choice that is not constrained by outdated structures like timetables and limited course selections.
In the report, they set out nine first steps in moving to an education system that creates the innovators needed for today’s world.
Step 1 is Building the case for change.
For those who have been in this business of change for many years, it is a struggle to understand why many leaders don’t see the urgency.
This section from page 8, the Executive Summary, explains the situation with such clarity:
Over the past few years, many leaders have told me that as soon as someone starts talking about 21C, or innovation, or technology, or the 6 C’s, they tune out. It doesn’t interest them and they don’t see the value.
For those who have heads that hurt from hitting them against the brick walls of hierarchy, remember the Randy Pausch quote:
Creative leadership requires more than courage, more than dedication. It requires passion and purpose, so don’t give up.
It also requires an understanding of how to carefully defend your position, to find value in your stance, and to clearly communicate that value to those who can make a difference.
Page 60 of the report suggests first steps for building that case.
What a great focus for our work – building a case for change.
Why is it critical to create innovators? Why is it, that a school system designed to build a standardized work force, is not creating the conditions for learning needed for young people in a world where robotics and offshore/global competition have eliminated most manufacturing jobs?
How do we convince leaders to prepare our kids to seize the opportunities that arise when all menial work can be done by machines?
We need creative public leaders who can build this convincing case for change – before we become completely irrelevant.
I think we have done a huge disservice to our children. We’ve known for a very long time that kids can communicate, access photos and share online, but by prohibiting this behaviour in schools – by taking the stance that it is not okay to use devices in school – we have neglected to teach them the competencies required to be successful citizens in the online environment.
So who will teach them now?
Unless we truly believe that digital literacies are important and that the competencies required to be successful in the future must be taught in school, nothing will change.
We need to ensure that our education leaders have these competencies.
Full immersion in digital spaces is arguably the best way for people to develop these competencies (Doug Belshaw, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies) and to understand how best to develop them in others. This requires the use of a number of devices (and reliable access to the internet). Deciding what device is best for what purpose is part of the learning. It also requires time to immerse and try and play and network and learn. Educators need these opportunities.
We can’t let our children continue to play online without the knowledge and skills to be safe, to be responsible, and to lead change in the digital environment.
The change begins by building confidence and competence in digital literacies with our education leaders.
Online every day I see what appear to be amazing things that educators are doing in their classrooms. As a connected leader and learner, I tend to be quick to praise, to share, to encourage and to promote practice.
But is this my best practice?
Do I know enough about what I am encouraging?
Recently, I have been exploring the impact of the “enthusiastic amateur”.
The term “enthusiastic amateur” refers to educators who have “emerged from the cave” and who have embraced the power of technology in the classroom. The are often loud with their enthusiasm. They are excited about their learning and they share share openly.
This can be a step in the journey to understand the power of technology to change learning in the ‘classroom’. We are all on the path of learning as we integrate the use of technology into our school system. However, at all times, student learning must be at the centre of our practice.
What do we do about the educators who refuse to embrace change?
This question keeps bubbling up in conversations, on Twitter, and in blog posts, in different formats, but essentially this is it: “How do we convince educators that they need to change their practice?”
We have names and categories for those who resist change and cling to the status quo.
But have we articulated what the “change” is leading to?
Have we co-constructed the success criteria of what this will look like when we are doing it well?
Simon Breakspear, at the 2015 Ontario Leadership Congress, challenged participants to think about what Ontario classrooms could look like three years from now. What would we see, hear and feel as we walk into our students’ learning environment in 2018? What is our shared vision for the future of our children?
This is not a hypothetical exercise. He wants us to set this out exactly as we expect to see it. What are we looking for, and how will we get there? It is only by doing this exercise that we can clearly communicate to educators what the path forward is, and what we expect to accomplish.
Over the past 1.5 years, I have been working relentlessly, with my OSAPAC co-lead (@markwcarbone) on a project to help education leaders become adept in the use of educational technology.
Because in Ontario we have a “renewed vision” for education, and that vision includes using technology as an accelerator to change where, when and how learning can take place.
And if we are actually going to see this happen in our “classrooms”, then our leaders have to have a very good understanding of what technology enabled learning and teaching looks like, sounds like, feels like for learners.
The world is changing rapidly and if our students are going to thrive, they need very different skills and abilities than the ones that worked for us. It’s easy to forget how fast the world is changing when we are immersed in our bricks and mortar schools each day.
Are we leading and teaching for where the puck is now, or where it is going?
So how do you provide learning for leaders to keep up with the changing role of technology in learning?
We think we understand the learning needs of leaders who are already pressed for time. We need many different entry points. We have to appeal to a range of styles of learning. We need learning opportunities that do not require a lot of commitment because of the varied schedules of those in leadership roles. Small chunks of learning have to be available so they can be accessed at any time.
We looked at a way to provide very, very simple access to opportunities to learn to become a connected leader. That simple access includes:
on that website, links to the blogs of formal and informal school and system leaders in Ontario so that this one site allows anyone access to the visible thinking of educators throughout this province.
on the website – a new post nearly every day, Tuesday evening open conversations,
on the website – a program to become connected in only 10 minutes a day
on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and other social media, a stream of information on learning and connected leadership
If any education leader in Ontario has the DESIRE to learn to become connected, OSSEMOOC (Awesome MOOC!) is just sitting there waiting for them to start.
It is free, open and simple with 1:1 support for anyone who WANTS to learn.
Our question is, what more can we possibly offer?
Is the missing piece the desire to learn?
This is an interesting problem, because leaders openly wonder why educators in their systems won’t embrace change.
We hear that the world is changing, the nature of education is changing, what we know about learners is changing, but some classroom educators refuse to change their practice. How can we help them change?
Will they change if they don’t have the desire to learn?
So let’s solve this! Why is it not a priority for leaders to become connected? What is it about this learning that leaders do not buy into?
If leaders personally reflect on why they don’t see the value in becoming connected digital leaders, why they don’t take advantage of opportunities to learn to lead in digital spaces, will it reveal some understanding about the challenges in helping resistant classroom educators change their practice?
refuse to learn to use collaborative documents so that they can work asynchronously and at a distance from their colleagues?
don’t take the time to learn to use technology to download their own videos and make their own presentations shine, and even say “oh, I don’t do tech” (they would never say that about math!)?
don’t build a strong professional learning network so that they can reach out and find the experience and understanding they need to make evidence-based decisions around technology purchases, capacity-building and planning?
have not learned the skills needed to supervise and learn with teachers in online learning environments?
Are education leaders who preserve the technology status quo, “fundamentalists”?
Would we refer to leaders who refuse to make digital leadership a priority as “fundamentalists”?
Not likely, as we know that education leaders are learners. We might say that they don’t have time, or that they have other priorities and interests. But we see them as being learners.
Do we see resistant classroom educators as learners? Are they only labelled as fundamentalists because they are not learning what we think they should learn?
Maybe what we need to do is find out what it is they want to learn, and start there. Recognize that they ARE learners, and that what they are learning is valuable, and let them bring it to the table.
Find the mindset they already have – where learning is sought instead of provided – and discover what learning they are seeking, and harness this.
Fundamentally, our job as educators is to ensure that every single child in our care is learning. There might be all kinds of research on what best practices are, but none of that research was done on that student in that classroom. Only that teacher has the responsibility to ensure that child is learning, and once their repertoire of strategies is exhausted, it is that teacher’s job to connect with others to find the next best practice, to be the scientist for that child to find what will work.
The classroom educator is the researcher to find best practice for every child.
They need to know how to find out what others are doing, and how to adapt practices to each learner.
The shift is from a mindset where learning is provided, to a culture where learning is sought (David Jakes, 2015).
But since learning will only be sought where there is a DESIRE to learn, maybe that is the place we need to start.
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?