First off, and I already mentioned this earlier today, but I need to repeat it: the ScotiaBank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls is by far the best venue for any (larger scale) #EdTech conference. Period.
I am happy that I attended Connect 2014 this week. I attended in 2013 as well, and told so many people at work that it was the best conference that I’d been to in a while.
Day 1 was full of great sessions, including keynote speaker Dr. Michael Fullan, who – no matter how many times you see him – always has new information to take away from his presentations.
Overwhelming to say the least. I’m not even sure where to start with this post.
Change… collaboration… pedagogy…leadership…
Let’s start with change.
A couple of quotes from Dr. Fullan’s keynote this morning:
“Change is voluntary but inevitable”
“Professional development: a great way to avoid change.”
Change is such a broad term in education, especially dealing with new technologies and strategies in the classroom. As I’m sure you can attest to, being in a ‘coordinator’-type role, I have seen and experienced many different groups of teachers when it comes to adapting 21st Century teaching practices; from the ‘I’m not changing what I’m doing’ teachers, to the ‘you have something new? Show me!’ teachers.
Unfortunately, this won’t change – unless so so much else does.
I couldn’t keep up with the inspiring quotes, lessons, strategies, etc… from Dr. Fullan’s keynote. But, as Andrew Bieronski so eloquently put it: “You will only truly improve #edu with robust collaboration“.
Which leads me to collaboration – or pedagogy – or both?
Might as well throw leadership in there.
They all seem to go hand in hand, especially if you want to get any traction with either – or all – regarding systemic change.
In my role, I see it all; teachers getting technology without proper training; decisions being made for the classroom without input from those who are directly in it. It is tough to be in a position where you see so much in a day that is possible for improvement that you don’t know where to start. Not to mention, hoping that you have the proper audience that can make appropriate changes happen.
A few more quotes from Dr. Fullan:
“Pedagogy needs to be the driving force in change.”
“You need a strategy for implementation – not just a vision.”
I find it funny; when I started in my position as e-Learning Contact, I thought I was going to have a hard time being a ‘salesman’ for Desire2Learn’s vLE as part of the Ministry’s e-Learning Strategy. After four years of the professional learning cycle in my work, conferences and constant reflection, I regretfully still find myself being that salesman, focusing on the tools; what they can do and how they can help teaching practice and student learning.
I am part to blame for this vision, as this is what my role entails essentially – getting people online.
I feel I was handed a vision – ‘striving for 25’; unfortunately this masked the strategy that I should have been focusing on – the pedagogy and theory of using the tool, rather than just getting people to use it.
Mind you, pedagogy is a beast on its own, where I think a team approach should be used to developing best practices. But:
As the school year is coming to a close (well, not really, but it’ll creep up for sure), and knowing that there is another year of e-Learning Contacts for 2014-15, I have an opportunity to make change happen; to be a leader that people need to see the value of change. To what scale? That is to be determined, relying on many factors; such as, most importantly, collaborating with key stakeholders and making them aware of the need for change.
Without this, I go back to being a salesman.
The journey begins.