Friday, August 31, 2007

Tools, Pedagogy and Networks- How do we build effective schools?

Clarence chronicled the edublogosphere's discussions over time recently as starting with tools moving to pedagogy and now needing to begin exploring the ramifications and practical aspects of learning networks. He poses some good questions about leading the students into learning networks and dealing with information flow. From my perspective however, the post also made me reflect on the whole process of school change and where we are on the continuum. ( or is it even a continuum?)

As administrators and technology coordinators work on professional development opportunities and provide support and encouragement for change how do we keep these components in balance.

Tools- There are hundreds ( thousands?) of things we can employ in the classroom. While my first inclination was to always be playing with the newest and coolest it only serve to frustrate those who are not quite as geeky as I am. There are three questions that might drive the tools we explore at school now. 1) What are the basic essentials for a 2.0 classroom? I am thinking wikis, blogs, podcasts/vcast, skype a reader(RSS), photo program/storage/sharing, and online WP like google docs. 2) In picking specific applications, what is the learning curve for a neophyte? 3) What do we need/ what will help us with this project/concept /goal? This is the category where things like voicethread and flickrphoto storm would appear. As we work with Clarence this year it will also push the envelope for both students and staff. ( Okay, maybe there are 4 questions...What are people naturally interested in learning? For example after our last faculty meeting one teacher was spontaneously showing another teacher how to make an avatar)

Pedagogy- This is an ongoing discussion. I see it as the place where visions are shared and the place that drives us to explore new tools because we identify new learning needs. This is where our growing understanding of literacy, creativity ( see the revised Blooms) and thinking skills has a home. This is also the category that lead to our new mission statement. (see previous post)

Networks- This I think is a question of accessing information and building knowledge. While the issues for our students are real and there are a lot of questions to explore so too for our teachers. My reflection in this area has a lot to do with what kind of PLN is important for educators. This is part of the comment I left on Clarence's blog ( you can see he got me thinking about where we need to go) "From an administrative perspective the whole issue of PLN for the staff is taking on new levels of meaning. In the beginning I was looking to get everybody reading blogs in the edublogosphere. That is still part of the strategy but it is also time to start exploring subject specific sources of information. Maybe this is obvious but like it or not change/learning is incremental and the movement to have educators embrace digital sources as key components of knowledge takes some deliberate, modeling, experiences, and planning." once this is happening we will have to discuss questions about sorting information and what is useful and what is not...but learning by doing has always been one of the most effective methods.

Illustration from

1 comment:

Kelly Christopherson said...

"once this is happening we will have to discuss questions about sorting information and what is useful and what is not...but learning by doing has always been one of the most effective methods." This is so true and yet far to much of what we do moves away from this very idea. We learn by doing, asking questions, trying, failing, trying again, seeking advice, .... it is a non-stop cycle. So many educators do not recognize this and are too comfortable in what they are doing to seem to bother with new things. They have not fully realized the power in their PLN or been able to plan and reflect enough to see the great potential in seeking out and developing a larger PLN. Sometimes, as administrators, we need to challenge our teachers to try something and provide them with the resources to bring about success. I'm off to see what Clarence has to say!