Week 5 Blog Reflection/Flow of Consciousness Ramble: “How things are changing”

Preamble Ramble
Having heard from Chris Betcher and Kim about the importance of an online presence when looking for a job I spent time putting together a little something for a job prospect recently. I learned that it is easier to start with a bare bones template than to un-customize something that comes with more. I must now set up some wikis.

Getting to the Point
Looking into a library/media centre job and speaking with a colleague running a media centre recently has dovetailed with all I am learning about new skills and the priority being more on connections and ability to find knowledge and how this is more important than current knowledge. The global implications for learning here are obvious and constrained only by the imagination and willingness to start making connections. This makes me want to know more about tech coaches at one-to-one schools and how they integrate all of this into practice, everyday. I imagine it would mean they are helping students implement skills outlined as part of coursework not specifically deemed “ICT”.  The focus on how these skills need to be taught as part of a curriculum and not stand-alone raises questions about the collaborative nature of the teaching in such schools as well. As a primary trained teacher I guess my question is, “What does it look like?” I would further like to know how it is planned for. I want in and I need to see it in action. The whole package not just what I “get to do” in my isolated classroom. The talk given by James McDonald at our last COETAIL meeting (while interrupting my snack) made me “hungry” for an environment that seems to be actually about doing the “new stuff” and not just plopping some blurb about collaborative 21st century skills on some homepage to draw in more families.

The coursework I have done so far has brought my class and I along quite a ways further than we would have been in terms of digitally facilitated collaboration and publishing had I not been involved in the program. Speaking with others as we get to, it also seems to me that schools that are really taking things with integration and 21st century learning are not as common as one would hope, even in the “international” schools scene. It seems clear that I need to get myself into one of the serious schools to truly gain ground and be a part of the change.

The changing nature of collaboration, self-directed learning and multiple-media usage is exciting and daunting all at the same time. Having had the need for authentic, purposeful application reiterated in terms of ICT more questions arise for me. What is the best way of ensuring this us done? Is it wise to stack more demands on good teachers who lack these skills? Is it best to have specialists involved in helping homeroom and subject area teachers plan for integration regularly and then help oversee the application and assessment process? I would like to cover this in the course. How is it being done in forward-looking schools with the funds to do it properly?There is an undeniable element of elitism through access that we have not addressed (or perhaps do not even need to) but the fact is that we do not all work in environments where best practices as we are studying for can be realized on a school wide level. For that matter, one of our cohorts seems to be jeopardizing himself by trying to implement what we are studying!

Being a little behind on this post date I can refer to the ISTE Essential Conditions and see how, right from square one, many would be ham-stringed by less than resourced and/or supportive, informed environments. One positive here, I suppose, is that, with Internet connection comes a broad range of opportunity regardless. With ingenuity, global collaboration becomes possible, even with constraints on access, be it one-to-one vs. a PC Lab or whatever. More is now possible and a teacher with just one class can open up a book project that invites the world in and give students that he/she will never meet the opportunity to join a wider classroom, even offering them the chance to learn using assessment as learning, whether they have had the opportunity before or not.

While I have not come up with a plan for incorporating any global opportunities for my class as of yet, I may have come up with something to share with teachers. It isn’t ready to share yet but is definitely global and collaborative in scale.

I think I will end this here for now and go make some comments on cohorts blogs. I wonder when I might see a new grade on my spreadsheet… 🙂

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About Sean Thompson

Sean has accepted a position as the Director of Technology at The Early Learning Centre, City School, in Bangkok. He is excited to be working with Giovanni Piazza and the rest of the staff to raise awareness of digital-age teaching and learning practice in this Reggio Emilia inspired environment. Sean is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, an International Baccalaureate Educator Network Workshop Leader and a Google Educator available for professional development at your school.
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2 Responses to Week 5 Blog Reflection/Flow of Consciousness Ramble: “How things are changing”

  1. Adam says:

    Hi Sean – Interesting to read your thoughts here. You said you are, “hungry” for an environment that seems to be actually about doing the “new stuff”. I’m curious what you think would be the signs that you/ other international educators should look for as we explore job possibilities and career opportunities at schools to assess whether it is one of those places “actually doing the new stuff”.

  2. Sean says:

    Thanks for the comment Adam. It’s a big question isn’t it? I have seen websites for a number of schools that profess their forward thinking attitudes in relation to integration and 21st century thinking with no evidence of this in practice. The easy answer, of course, would be to look at the International Society for Technology in Education‘s Essential Conditions as a guideline first.

    If a school talks about SMART boards and a laptop lab and little else this is an indication to me that they may not really know what they are doing, or are I’ll-equipped in terms of staffing to completely commit to integration in a meaningful way. Other schools have links to tech on their websites with pages designed specifically geared towards explaining how they implement. Some have interviews with students about how they are using ICT and others, like YIS, have resources to keep parents informed and to assist them with understanding the purposes and “how to’s”.

    In the end, if a school doesn’t have qualified staff in place to help teachers plan and/or execute a well-articulated program of integration it should probably raise some alarm bells. My biggest personal concern is that there aren’t as many out there truly invested in integration as there need to be. As a parent of a child with half Japanese heritage, the number of places I can end up, even near Japan, are few. Please let me know if I have this wrong. I mean what I write here and I WANT IN!

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