Well, would you look at that…it’s been over two months since I last posted to this blog. It has been a crazy, busy time preparing for the launch of our BYOL program but I feel like I can hold my head above water right now. This has easily been the hardest I have ever worked in my life but it’s also been a time of profound professional growth; it’s what I’ve been preparing for all my life. Dewitt Jones, noted photographer, states there are four steps to capturing an extraordinary vision:
1.) Train your technique
2.) Put yourself in the place of most potential
3.) Be open to possibilities
4.) Focus the vision by celebrating what’s right with the situation
Everything I’ve learned over the past 22 years about learning, best instructional practices, good classroom management and instructional technology have all brought me to where I stand today. There is a knowing inside me that the work we’re doing with the Partnership for Powerful Learning will bring about monumental changes in how we define what it means to be a learner. But, and this is a big but, it hasn’t been an easy ride; shifting a culture is never easy.
One of the most challenging aspects of this BYOL pilot project has been convincing people that it isn’t necessary for all students to have the same device. Would it be easier? Heck ya. But easier isn’t always better. I remain convinced that our job is to prepare students for the real world where part of being successful will mean knowing how to troubleshoot and navigate their digital worlds which will ultimately include a variety of devices, tools and situations.
Dean Shareski states it beautifully in this post:
“So while the mish-mash of technology may prove to be challenging for teachers and IT staff to manage and control, in the end this isn’t about management or control of learning. It’s about helping students use the tools and gifts they have at their disposal, maximizing that potential and showing them new possibilities as well.”
In my dream world, I want the kids to know how to navigate, curate, manage, and organize information. I want the kids to know how to connect safely, ethically and efficiently with people from around the world. I want kids to understand what it means to create something from nothing using any tool that helps them express themselves cogently. This doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all package. It is highly personal and individualized.
Bottom line: I want the kids to own the learning. What does it mean to own the learning and what does it look like? Watch this video of a seventh grader talking about her personal learning environment:
What exactly is different in this example of student learning? The essential content is still there. The expectation that she demonstrate her understanding of the content is evident. Reflecting deeply on her learning will lead you to a different understanding of the type of learning that will be expected of our students in this century. Re-imagining learning environments to allow for this kind of learning will be messy and challenging. It won’t be easy. Are you ready?