A(nother) Learning 2.010 Reflection

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Shanghai at the Learning 2.010 conference. It was a fantastic experience for a variety of reasons:

1. I got to meet up with a lot of my twitter friends: @klbeasley, @intrepidteacher, @dearlibrariann, @mscofino, @kurisuteen, @courosa@dkuropatwa, @megangraff, @betchaboy, @brianlockwood to name a few. I’m certainly not the first to say it, but those connections are worth more than a thousand keynote speeches.

2. One of my colleagues, @lissgriffin, jumped on the Twitter train with both feet and now is a Twitter force-to-be-reckoned-with! Beyond that, it was so rewarding to watch her realize that, as much as she may try to tell you otherwise, she’s on top of this ‘teaching with technology’ thing. Some of the ideas she’s coming up with are mind boggling. One day soon I’ll get her to either a) start her own blog about what she’s doing in her classroom or b) guest post here.

3. My cohort was pretty amazing. Led by Kim Cofino and Darren Kuropatwa, we explored the Future of Learning. The idea was to work in small groups to explore this topic in more detail after a few introductory discussions and activities. In just over 90 minutes my group cobbled together a presentation we called ‘Bridging the Gap’. The focus was on what we felt the future of learning is and what can we do now to put us in a position to be ready for that future. It was a good experience to be thrust into the role of the students, if only for 2 days. Working under a deadline in classroom conditions to create a product that you must then present to your peers: something many teachers take for granted that students can do. It’s hard work and we need to make sure we give them the time they need to create products they can be proud of.

We also had to contribute a slide to the Great Quotes about Learning and Change Flickr group. Here’s my submission.

I’ll have more to say about what I learned in my cohort in a later post.

4. Facilitating unconference sessions was very rewarding. I volunteered to facilitate a session on Tech Integration in a 1:1 School. I didn’t suggest the topic, but I figured it is my job and I do work at a 1:1 school so I was pretty well qualified to at least lead the discussion! Keri-Lee and I also ran a Twitter for Teachers unconference session, mostly because of conversations that we had with other teachers the previous night about the “banality of Twitter.” Needless to say, we disagreed. Twitter is only as useful as you make it, that’s true. Some teachers just need a little help in seeing how to make it useful and I hope we did that. (As an aside, is there another community of professionals that is using Twitter as actively as teachers?)

I was at the Learning 2.008 conference as well. I will be pushing hard to make sure I can be involved with the next iteration too!

Technology Facilitator: My New Role

A few days ago, Kim Cofino was wondering about the variations in job titles amongst people doing similar work at different schools.

What is it about technology in education that makes it so difficult to define roles that everyone can agree on and understand? Even though we’ve had technology in schools for decades, it still seems like we’re making it up as we go along.

I missed her original Tweet calling for the different titles or else I would have added my very own brand new title to the mix: MSHS Technology Facilitator.

We’ve been back at school for the better part of a week now and I still am trying to come to grips with what this fancy new title means. Here’s what’s been bouncing around in my head to date:

What I am:

  • I’m there to support teachers, both in the classroom, with ideas on how where our current technologies fit into their curriculum and the best ways to integrate the two, and out, by providing training and support.
  • I’m there to support students by providing co-teaching and out-of-class support.
  • I’m there to support parents by offering workshops to help them understand what their children are doing in our 1:1 school.
  • I’m a filter between the teachers and the tech director.
  • I’m an observer, trying to monitor how teachers and students are progressing with their technology integration and finding ways to advance that integration based on what I see.

What I’m not:

  • I’m not Tech Support (no admin passwords, sorry!) though I’ll try my best to troubleshoot.
  • I’m not a classroom teacher any more.
  • I’m not THE expert.

So far, I’ve been running around putting out fires as teachers get back into the swing of using their Tablets. I’ve also been running some in-house PD on using Outlook effectively and efficiently as well as guiding the staff on what they will need to be showing our students on Day 1 (tomorrow!) when grades 8 – 10 receive their tablets for the very first time. I’ve also run an intro session for our batch of student helpers so that they can help me fight fires over the first few days.

I am absolutely thrilled to be the first person to occupy this position at my school. This position was created because our Admin saw the need for it as a direct result of Jeff Utecht‘s visit last November. I only hope I can fill the already-high expectations placed on this job.

I’m also a bit confused: after 10+ years of getting ready for students on Day 1, I’m not doing that this year. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet…