Sunday, July 09, 2006

NECC06 Reflections

NECC06
Now that I’ve come home and found a little time to reflect first and foremost I am struck by the fact that as much as I would like to deny it I am a digital immigrant and I have not fully assimilated into the new culture. Even now my head is spinning and I can not absorb information fast enough nor multitask well enough to keep my lines of thought clear.

NECC did help me by solidifying my resolve and sense of urgency. Because 4 members of the staff were with me it also helped build a shared vision and a common language so I am confident that we will move ahead.

What impacted me?

The Open Source presentations…
I went to several Open Source presentations and I saw and used thin clients. It was interesting to juxtapose this experience with a hike through the Exhibit Hall. How can one doubt that there are issues regarding equal access. Don’t get me wrong much of what I saw in the Exhibit Hall was great and not everything had a price tag. But understanding the potential for open source software made the hype of the hall less glitzy. One of the most immediately useful pieces of information from the Open Source presentations was the catalogue compiled of the wide variety of software available. Go take a look empower your families and your students without breaking the bank. Let's even the playing field for all students (and schools). (The price of licensing had almost made us put our plans on hold). Wouldn’t it be sad that we marginalized ourselves not teaching to the digital native simply for lack of funding.

For the Open Source catalogue go to http://www.k12opensource.com/

For more info on digital natives see http://www.twitchspeed.com/site/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.htm
And http://www.twitchspeed.com/site/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part2.htm

Will Richardson’s presentation(s)
I had read his blog for a while before I swept away from blogs by day to day life and I knew hearing him was an important step in creating shared vision for our staff and motivation. I was not disappointed! Will puts a face on the issues of digital native vs digital immigrant and he challenges all of us to action. But he also leads from a place of practice which helps us see the road and ahead and the possibilities. His talk on Web 2.0 has been blogged in more details by others but the a few things that will be important to me. The juxtaposition of the beer ad and a my space page opened my eyes in a new way. I have a my space account and I have seen plenty examples of accounts made by the digital natives but I had not made the connection between what advertisers know and we as educators have failed to grasp. Thanks Wil… it really is about connections and links not just on a web page but those links of understanding and insight in our minds. The other important idea for me was the concept of teachers as connectors…this is a powerful image and is different than the concept of facilitator. It conjures a collaborative model and builds on the idea of “work with others” rather than “do your own work”

Finally before this post gets too long I have to comment on the ISTE institute. What an awesome opportunity to set an intentional course for the future. This occupied the full day for us on Friday and Saturday and was worth every minute of time. The institute provided a nice balance between building knowledge and building practical plans. Moving forward is always one person at a time but true systemic change requires a shared vision and willingness to be accountable for your plan…The institute provides the structure for that and more. It helps us set a direction and the wonderful folks at ISTE provide us with the mentorship and support along the way. As we first try to change it is hard to make heads or tails of how to pull all this new information together and put it into practice but ISTE stands ready to help!

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2 comments:

Miguel said...

Interesting points. To what extent do you see existing culture in U.S. public schools preventing or blocking students' (and teachers') immersion in open source software, open access learning?

Thanks,
Miguel Guhlin
Around the Corner - MGuhlin.net/blog
http://www.mguhlin.net/blog

Barbara said...

Miguel, I am not in a good position to comment on the existing culture in US public schools because I work in the private sector. As antidotal indicators I can tell you that there are some signs of hope. We Do participate in some public sector programs offered by the Los Angeles County Office of Education and they have sponsored some open source workshops. In may I attended a workshop with them on Moodle.
I believe that a lot of the road blocks we all encounter are do to lack of knowledge. The open source software has come along way and we need to get the word out. i believe in leading by example so i hope to set up a situation where I can invite others to come and see it in action.