January 15, 2016

Shifting the shift – moving away from interesting conversations

Then…
Back in my early days of blogging…somewhere before and around 2007… there was a lot of talk about shifting priorities in education as a result of technology. Just for fun, I looked through my old blog archives and found these articles from that time:

Learning the way they’re living … where I write about the teacher’s evolving role as a connection maker, connecting students to their learning with technology.

and

Why technology in schools? And how do I lead something that is constantly changing? 😉…where I write about how technology can not be separated from the rest of life.

Also at around that time, I remember the hype around Shift Happens. They are a series of videos that were first published in 2007, based on a presentation created for a staff meeting in 2006, called Did You Know? Basically, the videos show us statistics about how and how often technology is used and the underlying message is that we are preparing learners for jobs that do not yet exist.

Now…
lbpsb_google_leadership_tweet
Recently I was at a Google Leadership Symposium where the facilitators were sending the exact same message – that we are preparing our learners for jobs that do not yet exist and that technology needs to play an integral role in that preparation.

10 years later and we are still preaching the same message with as much fervor.

So I ask myself – what has (or hasn’t happened) in the past ten years to replace the skip on the broken record?

Is it time to shift the shift?

A 2015 study by CEFRIO (a centre that facilitates organizational research and innovation around technology) came to the conclusion that Quebec teachers are, at best, in the infancy stage of technology use. Early adopters? That number is at less than 15% of teachers.
CEFRIO (2015) Usages du numérique dans les écoles québécoises (Use of technology in Quebec schools)

So. Preaching hasn’t worked. Scare tactic or shock videos like Shift Happens, haven’t worked as much as we might have liked them to. Targeted training by a network of consultants in technology hasn’t worked as much as we might have liked it to.

I remember a poster in the classroom of a colleague many years ago – it went something like

If you have explained it to me the same way a million times and I still don’t get it…who is the slow learner?

It was in response to well-meaning teachers or tutors who sometimes just re-explain things, only louder and slower, in the hopes that their charges will ‘get’ whatever it is they don’t understand.

So what do we do? Do we continue to offer technology training, only louder?

Yesterday I had a conversation with a colleague about how, too often, the important conversations about our students and the roles technology play in their learning are happening between the people who already agree with the outcomes.

My conclusion? Those are interesting conversations but they are not the important conversations.

EdCamps and Twitter chats – PD that happens on Saturdays, in the evenings, on our own time – are fabulous for inspiration and motivation because when we get together with like-minded people we become a mutual cheering society and that can be motivating in the We. Are. Awesome! kind of way. But again – the conversations are happening with those who already believe in the outcomes. They are interesting but not important in a change the culture kind of way.

Important conversations need to include many voices. Not only the ones that echo each other.

I think we have moved past the point where EdCamps need to remain voluntary and on our own time to be valid. What if we move the edcamp philosophy into our places of work? What if we allow expect educators to have conversations about what is important to them as a part of their in-service PED days? It is something we are experimenting with in Quebec’s Adult Education community.

Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well. Conversation is the natural way we humans think together. We may have forgotten this, or no longer have time for each other, but it is how good thinking grows into actions that create real change.

~ quote from Margaret Wheatley

Conversations about what matters to us are necessary to the human existence. Necessary! How human to have these conversations in the places where we congregate to help people learn how to participate in society and create a better future for us all.

These conversations may be difficult ones. They may get messy. But, facilitated in a caring, open, and practical way they may likely become the important ones.

I think they will form the basis for the shift.

I have been teaching and consulting - from primary school through adult education - since 1996. Currently an education consultant with la Commission scolaire de la Seigneurie-des-Mille-Îles in Montreal, Quebec, I believe that sharing our stories is the key to getting better together.

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    John Hodges
    January 18, 2016

    I totally agree with the tone and the message of your post.

    In my experience, (in Voc. Ed.), teachers are not comfortable with the “newest and latest” in the IT field because so much of what we do is hands-on – we struggle to find ways that technology (unless it is specific to a certain task, such as computer-generated read outs for car diagnostics, for example) can fit into the work we expect our students to accomplish. Couple that with an average teacher age that makes us more like the student’s parent’s age and, ….. well, to be honest, us grey beards don’t adapt well to change!!!! We spend much more time resisting adapting technology than we do discovering ways we can improve outcomes.

    Until recently, the PD offered to teachers in the IT realm is too much of the blunderbuss approach: or madly off in all directions. The EDcamp model at least allows teachers the chance to figure out what they need or want and can be much more rewarding.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Tracy Rosen
    January 21, 2016

    Thanks for your perspective, John. I really believe in the power of an EdCamp or other participant-driven PD model to frame that shift we all deserve.

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