My apologies up front if this comes across as part blog-post, part infomercial.
I am really looking forward to being part of the upcoming symposium: Targeting Technology for Maximum Student Benefit, to be presented by the Centre for the Study of Educational Leadership and Policy at Simon Fraser University.
While much has been bandied about around technology relating to the BC Education Plan, we’ve only just touched the surface. So far, much of the conversation and views expressed have taken quite a simplistic approach; the conversation has fractured on the one side to notions of embracing personal devices as forward steps to a privatized or American-style public education system, and on the other of charging ahead noting that increased digitization of schooling is inevitable.
The SFU session on February 9th will (hopefully) allow for deeper discussions. Coquitlam Technology Leader, Brian Kuhn, and I have been each given an hour in the morning to respond to the following imagined scenario:
Imagine that you have a budget to support the educational use of technology in a school district that has previously constructed all the necessary technical infrastructure, but has not yet introduced a plan for the use of technology to support learning. Your budget is one-third of what you would require to do all that you feel would be effective given the rate at which staff and students can learn to effectively employ technology.
Provide a way of thinking about the broad array of potential uses of technology in education, including a conceptual overview of the options that you believe have been shown to be most important for improving student outcomes through ‘personalizing’ their learning in ways suggested by the BC Education Plan.
Describe how you would use the resources at your disposal over a 5-year period to initiate technology use in a way that would maximize both immediate and eventual benefit for students in a sustainable and generative fashion. Include a rationale for what you choose to do, and to defer.
It is an interesting and challenging scenario, and I am committed to pushing out some thinking, as well as to sharing some thoughts on the future (or perhaps, the lack thereof) of online learning, and a road-map embracing personally owned devices while ensuring equity, and how, using Michael’s Fullan’s words “We ensure we have the right drivers for this change”.
And, personally, as much as I think there is a list of things we could or should do, I also believe there is a list of things we need to stop doing, or not start doing, to keep our focus clear and on student learning as our goal.
We need to commit our focus on Grades 4 – 10, to focus on a space for learning that allows for personalization, to have expectations for leadership from our administrators and librarians, to have our learning leaders become our digital learning leaders and integrate, integrate, integrate with the arts, as well as throughout the curriculum.
On the flip side, we need to take a critical look at the future of distributive learning, to not allow technology to solely report to the business side of our organizations, to be cautious and not go slate (iPad) crazy, and to be wary of digital ‘drill and kill’ or the ‘shiny new thing’ syndrome and, to not get stuck in the endless loop of technology strategy planning sessions.
Following our responses and participant discussion, Kris Magnusson, SFU Dean of Education, will also have a chance to share his thinking on the above scenario, which will then lead into panel discussions.
I understand from Bruce Beairsto, who has organized the event, there are about 170 people who have signed-up including teachers, administrators, parents, trustees and other educators, leaving only space for about 10 more registrations. You can find out more about the event from Bruce (here) or register directly (here).
Of course, you can also participate online via Twitter at #bcedsfu.
The simple idea of learning empowered by technology is not so simple. The more opportunities we have to engage, challenge, press on, pushback, and move forward to some common thinking, the better it is for our system.
UPDATE – JANUARY 23RD – THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT! MORE TO COME ON MY BLOG AND FOLLOW IT ON TWITTER AT #bcedsfu