Vision challenge – Part 1

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Here’s a challenge for all of us educational technology advocates…

Can we articulate in a few short sentences or paragraphs what the

end result looks like? Children learning collaboratively, students

as self-directed learners, a computer in every kid’s hand, ubiquitous Internet

access, creative problem-solving rather than rote memorization, global

interconnections, etc. Whatever we think the desired end point should be: can we

articulate it in a clear, concise manner that’s easily conveyable to others? Can

we describe what students and teachers and administrators are doing and why

(i.e., the educational purposes and benefits of doing so)?

One of the key aspects of successful facilitation of change is the ability to

convey a clear vision of what lies at the other end. As

David Warlick notes, many of us feel that we need to tell a new story. However, it’s not enough to just say we need one. We actually need to tell it. So can we

do it? Can we tell the new story?

I look forward to seeing what we come up with…

15 comments on this post.
  1. Carolyn Foote:

    I grabbed a magazine the other day that asked “What’s your post-it?”

    Seems like what we want here.

    I also have to mention–Will Richardson spoke at our campus this spring, and I gave him the dubious task of summing up everything about the read/write web in ten minutes for the parents on our vision committee.

    I have to say he did an incredible job.

    So I think your challenge here is a great one for all of us–to think about what our “post-it” would be.

    That being said, I would concur with your list above, and add information literate/search literate.

  2. Scott McLeod:

    Thanks, Carolyn. Maybe you’ll post your Post-It on your blog so we can all see and think about it… (hint, hint!)

  3. John Gross:

    IMO the story hasn’t changed much, the method of telling the story has. Technology in education is much like textbooks were a couple hundred years ago, we don’t know what to do with it and we’re looking in the wrong place. A motivated student will learn in spite of us, in spite of how we teach. The vision at the end of the tunnel is a student who can enter society knowing who and where he/she is and where he/she is going. We, as teachers and administrators, have to accept change, embrace it and then run with it. Our outdated methods that worked for centuries are dinosaurs and we won’t admit it.

    My vision would be a classroom full of kids teaching and learning from each other. Teaching is changing almost as rapidly as technology and the kids know far more about how to use it to arrive at their ends than we do. Watch a group of kids collaborate on a project and the leaders step forward.

    I am the instructor/facilitator for Edtech 462 an online technology leadership course, at Penn State University and see adult students, given a project with a stated outcome, meet in chat rooms created by me and lay out/plan how the project will be done. Ideas change hands and the framework takes shape. They hassle back and forth, divide the project, and conquer it.

    I have no doubt that this same thing will take place in a public school classroom given the outcome desired and the tools to do it. I think sometimes we get too hung up on how to get there and lose sight of where we want them to go. In other words we get too academic minded and look far too much for a way to “write down” the vision. We over study it because that’s what “education” is supposed to do?

  4. David Warlick:

    I would suggest that we take the word, “result,” out a little further. What do we want as the resulting/end product (forgive the industrial terminology). Who do we want graduating from our schools.

    In my opinion, you want people who can learn, who can teach themselves. I’m coming to call this learning literacy, and I believe that learning literacy is the same as literacy — the skills to resourcefully use your information environment to help yourself learn what you need to know, to do what you need to do.

    I would also suggest that we need graduates who have a strong context that they can share with others — a sense of who, what, where, and when (culture, science, geography, and history) they are, that gives them a common ground interacting, collaborating, and enjoying each other.

    Then we think of what the classrooms, teachers, textbooks, technology, blah blah blah, need to look like to accomplish this.

  5. Mechelle De Craene:

    Hi Scott,

    I think this is an excellent discussion. I enjoy reading and learning from you.

    It is my contention with regard to the “challenge” that the outcome will always vary for students. Developmental levels come into play. I believe that effective teachers meet the child where he or she is at and then helps to scaffold development (i.e. Vygotsky’s ZPD). Being a special ed teacher, I’m a big fan of developmental psychology (also undergrad).

    Indeed, Piaget posits that not everyone will achieve formal operations. Therefore, from a developmental perspective are the utopic visions via technology too narrow? And in turn, is technology considered ineffective by many school administrators if their particular visions are not fulfilled? Can we explore the shades of gray? Can we broaden the efficacy of technology to consider each child’s developmental level and how teachers are scaffolding development through the medium?

    …just some thoughts…

    Best Wishes,
    Mechelle : )

  6. A. Mercer:

    I have a more detailed response on my site at: http://mizmercer.edublogs.org/2007/07/10/tech-talk-tips/

    Hey, am I mistaken in thinking that finally my point about talking points was heard? I see they even had an edubloggercon session about this…

    Why have student create online projects like Webquests and wikis, or write on blogs?

    1. Get their interest, their hearts and minds will follow:
    It improves engagement, students are more motivated to learn;

    2. Use it or lose it! It improves retention;
    Students need to use what they are taught for it to make sense and to remember it.

    3. It improves, encourages, and develops independent and group work skills;
    This is preparing them for a modern work force where they will have little supervision and blurred lines of authority;
    They will need to work cooperatively with others without input from a supervisor.

    4. It helps them contextualize themselves (or see their place) in their community and the world;
    Its a big world, and they will be a part of it.

  7. A. Mercer:

    Scott, I was trying to find a post on a study of students working on a history project: one group doing it online, the other with books, paper, pencil, and tests. The groups had similar outcomes on initial testing, but follow up a year later showed better retention from the group doing it as an online project. Was that on your blog? I couldn’t find it on 2 cents, or doing a Google search.

  8. Jeremiah Patterson:

    I agree with David’s point that the metacognitive process is key.

    Metacognitive literacy — understanding of how one/others learn.
    Social literacy — understanding how to peaceably navigate the changing world. (From the playground to the floor of the UN.)
    Environmental literacy — understanding our place in the earth, and that of others.
    Literacy — oh yeah, and understanding how to read and comprehend.

  9. Mechelle De Craene:

    I disagree with all the literacy theories mentioned. Where’s the reseach to back up these claims? Just because we tag the word literacy behind something what does that tell us? It is often very subjective. Yes, there are some literacy theories that are valid and peer-reviewed. However, lately it seems like lots of folks are jumping on this literacy bandwagon without peer-reviewed research. Ultimately, the term is becoming as ubiquitous as postmodernism. How are so many non-researched claims helpful to practicing teachers in the real world? Dewey said we should look at the pedagogy as a science…so where’s the science with these claims?

  10. Carolyn Foote:

    There have been a number of studies looking at information literacy, libraries, and student achievement.

    A summary of many of them can be found here:

    http://www.scholastic.com/librarians/printables/downloads/slw_2006.pdf

    Check on page 8-12 of the summary– Particularly the Alaska and Pennsylvania studies show a connection between information literacy instruction and student achievement scores.

  11. A. Mercer:

    This is a great brainstorm of how we are thinking, but not to put too fine a point on it, we cannot go to parents and lay school board members using terms like “meta-cognition” and names like “Piaget” and “Vygotsky”. We may know what we mean, but no one else will. Most importantly, THE PEOPLE WE NEED TO CONVINCE WON’T UNDERSTAND. Think of it as a lesson. If your class didn’t get it would you regard that as a success? Of course not!

    Lets look at Vygotsky, and meet our audience where it is at. A short catch phrase ala Three C’s (http://cliotech.blogspot.com/2007/07/from-three-rs-to-three-cs.html), some bullet points on the program that will support it, and an example of what it will look like (so they can see the concept in action). That’s it!

    The study that Carolyn cites, is an EXCELLENT example of a support document for advocacy. The headings make GREAT bullet points. This is what an advocacy paper could look like.

    More on my website to follow.

  12. Beth Allen:

    Hello all.

    I am very interested in the challenge of articulating the vision as well. I work with the Communications Workers of America, on the Speed Matters project, which Scott kindly highlighted as a Report of the Week.

    We are in the initial stages of gathering real stories about how universal, affordable broadband can make a real difference. Our research shows that even people who don’t want broadband for themselves have a vague idea that it is important for kids and schools and the future of education. We need to move from the abstract to the specific.

    We are interested identifying educators who would be interested in talking about their vision of what they could do if every child had home access to a computer with a real high speed connection (think FTTH with speeds of 30 mbps or more).

    We are also interested in getting kids to imagine the future – what would they do or invent if everyone in the United States had a real high speed connection. It might be the world’s most awesome video game. It might be a video phone system so that they could communicate with their grandparents who live far away.

    If any of you are interested in participating in one of these projects, drop me a note at http://www.speedmatters.org/contact.html .

  13. Sarah:

    “One of the key aspects of successful facilitation of change is the ability to convey a clear vision of what lies at the other end”. – that’s why all kinds of planning are very popular with business people… We need to know where we are going to reach the place of destination :-)

    Sarah, diploma graduate
    http://www.alpha-school.com/

  14. On the Trails:

    A Vision for Technology – the End Result

  15. online diploma:

    Cool post man.

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