Frieda Foxworth, Ron Bosch, and John Geanangel collaborated to present the session on “Cultivating Digital Educators” for K-12 Online 2006 in the Overcoming Obstacles strand. I was able to watch and reflect on their excellent presentation this afternoon as I flew from Dallas to Los Angeles enroute to a conference, and I really enjoyed their presentation. I have uploaded some video feedback for them to YouTube as well.

I appreciated their question about “how effective is “spray and pray” for you when it comes to helping teachers with technology?” I think often we do use this method when it comes to technology-related professional development in schools, and we’d be better served to take a collaborative and one on one model they suggest in their presentation instead of our “traditional” PD sessions.

During their session, I was struck by an idea: Instead of testing teachers on competencies in applications like MS Word, we need to assess the quality of instructional materials they create and share with other learners on the planet. In fact, I wrote the following on a cocktail napkin on my flight:

We need a school environment where teachers are empowered and expected to regularly author and share content (under Creative Commons licensing terms) with other learners around the globe. This would operationalize the ethics of open content in the education space, and address the TIME issues which plague all teachers.

Napkin doodle

I had not heard of Matchware’s Open Mind graphic organizer software they mentioned, I’ll have to check that out. I have just been familiar with Inspiration, CMapTools, and the SmartTech graphic organizer software previously.

“The Global Horizons Technology Initiative of Red Bank Elementary” is a collaborative visioning and planning document that looks great. I applaud Freida, Ron, John and others at their school for involving so many stakeholders in the collaborative visioning of teaching and learning reforms in their school.

I certainly agree with their contention that “it’s not about the technology, it’s about the information and learning to use and manage the information (critical thinking, meaningful evaluation of information)” which takes place in the classroom. Their 2:1 computing model is very innovative, where teachers are partnered together and alternate teaching in classrooms outfitted with a computer for every student, and a more traditional classroom. Their emphasis on shifting from a content delivery to problem solving model is right on target: We need to focus on how to find information, how to find content, and how to use it to create new knowledge much more than we need to focus on pure regurgitation of information today. I was inspired by their story of moving to project based learning as ameans to cultivate problem solving skills as well as address standards / mandates.

Great presentation! The students, parents and administrators in their school are lucky to have such innovative teacher/leaders!

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4 Responses to Feedback on “Cultivating Digital Educators”

  1. Jen says:

    You are in California — and not only that — near LA???

    Where — where — where is this conference???

    You are like just moments from a hug from me!!!!

    Grins & hugs
    Jen

    ps — oh, nice post!! πŸ™‚

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Alas I was just passing through LAX enroute to a conference! But I would love to return! The last time I was at the LAX airport (I think) was in 1987 when I was flying to New Zealand to spend the summer there as an AFS exchange student in their Outdoor Skills program.

    The conference is actually in Hawaii– it is the Hawaii Library Association’s annual get together. πŸ™‚

  3. Wes, the OpenMind2 graphic organizer software is the old Mindmapper software…stick with Cmap Tools.

    As to the idea that we should “Instead of testing teachers on competencies in applications like MS Word, we need to assess the quality of instructional materials they create and share with other learners on the planet.”

    Well…that’s pie in the sky. Might as well wish that all children could have a digital mentor that would work with them online, helping them enhance their academic work.

    Miguel

  4. I know I already thanked you in my blog, but I wanted to reply to this post as well. Sorry it took so long…it’s been a crazy week! Your feedback was wonderful and so encouraging. Here in our corner of the world most of the people around us just don’t seem to grasp the global changes and opportunities available to us, so your words of affirmation were sorely needed and appreciated. We prepared a little video message for you as well, but I don’t know how to hyperlink in a comment. The URL is
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfS3r6zEa7g
    I will post a link on my blog so you can check there if you can’t get it this way. I’m such a novice at all this, but I love to learn! Can you direct me somewhere that I can learn about trackbacks on blogs and how to eliminate spam trackbacks?
    I have to disagree with Miguel about Open Mind! You can attach any kind of files (Smart Notebook, videos, hyperlinks, docs, etc.). Each branch has a text note editor to add content. With one click you can also export your web as a word doc., PPT, or a web page. Yes, it’s expensive, but we think it’s worth it.
    I got our digital stories posted today. They are already linked to our Global Horizons blog, and I’m getting ready to write a blog entry about them with a link on my personal blog. Thanks for everything!!! πŸ™‚

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