The following is a comment I left tonight for Ben Wilkoff on his September 2007 podcast, “Articulating Vision.” It’s not long, take a moment and give Ben a listen as well as some feedback. I’d be interested to hear your responses to Ben’s ideas as well. I’m cross-posting it here for several reasons, but principally to encourage you to give this podcast a listen!


Good podcast– A couple of thoughts. Web 2.0 ideas ARE novel for lots of folks, including employees of innovative companies like Apple. It’s great to hear you’re sharing innovation and new visions for learning with many, including some outside the “traditional” classroom. I think Apple has historically and continues to a large extent be oriented toward client-based software use and media production. Web-based media production, or even web-based productivity tool use, is really not something I’ve seen Apple promote or necessarily have a leading vision for as a company. (I’m thrilled to see their support of Flickr in rev2 of AppleTV, and certainly their wireless technologies support web2 tool use like no one else, but…) They certainly support innnovation and innovative uses of technology, but they don’t have any web 2.0 tools or services out there as far as I know… So I wouldn’t be too hard on the Apple employee you had in your classroom… For people not “plugged-in” to the edublogosphere (which is the vast majority of folks) I am sure seeing a classroom lesson like the one you taught and described would be a surprise. That is why your role in the classroom is pivotal, and why it is so wonderful you can share your thoughts like you did in this podcast and solicit feedback and input.

I resonate with your point that “regurgitations of the past” are what we end up hearing the most from educational leaders who lack vision for teaching in truly engaging (rather than enthralling) ways with new technologies. We DO need leaders who can articulate this vision of new pedagogies effectively– and every school needs those people. I think traditonally we look for top-down reforms and “answers” to problems…. but in the case of educational reform, I don’t think that’s the way it is happening or will happen in the future. Good leadership matters… and that doesn’t just mean leaders who have positional authority. There is a book titled “When The Choir Began to Sing” that deals with this idea, that the authentic as well as most effective leaders are often NOT the ones who have the title or position– I haven’t read that book, just heard about it. Sounds a lot like what you’re describing here.

I applaud you for being willing to step up and attempt to articulate this vision for your local community and at a broader level. I also share that desire. I think one of the most important things we can each do in our contexts to move this agenda of school change forward is to regularly help students CREATE media and COLLABORATE with others. The more conversations our parents, administrators, classroom visitors, and others have about this digitally engaged model of learning, the more I think we’ll advance the agenda. I agree that “the agenda” needs to be better defined, however. Too many people still think of education as filling a pail, and all of us remain limited (to varying degrees) by our own lenses of traditional educational experience. Providing others with effective and engaging blended learning experiences is key. But publishing student work safely for interactive feedback on the global stage is the #1 best thing we can do, along with regularly collaborating with other learners.

Thanks for sharing these ideas Ben! I’m delighted to have found your blog and podcast, thanks to Miguel Guhlin’s link to your WordPress plugins recently. I’ve subscribed to both.

Here’s to the revolution! We’re on our way. Lots of educational reformers have gone before us, but none of them had the tools we have at our disposal to communicate, organize, advocate, amplify, celebrate, and struggle against the reactionary forces which WILL continue to oppose the cause of constructive change. It’s not inevitable that things will change, but I think we have a better chance of seeing large scale changes in the predominant educational paradigm in our own communities, around our nation, and even around the world than others have who have gone before us.

Blended learning. I’ll have a “grande” cup please, served piping hot– and let’s share it with as many people as we can. It’s not kool-aide, and it’s not easy to make, but it IS the best thing any of us could hope for as educators and parents when it comes to an outstanding context for real learning, which isn’t fake or short-lived.

I look forward to continuing to envision and eventually articulate in more discrete terms what that cup of blended learning looks, feels, and tastes like! I know it’s a heck of a lot better tasting than the cup ‘o joe being served up with a hefty portion of whipped fear topping in many U.S. classrooms today.

Bloggable coffee from Starbucks!

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5 Responses to Feedback on a great podcast about articulating a vision for educational change

  1. Ben Wilkoff says:

    Thank you so much for listening to my podcast and for your careful analysis of the content therein. I have enjoyed listening to your podcast for quite some time.

    Your vision of leadership (or perhaps just the one that we are talking about now) is something of an enigma to many people. The idea of articulating what the believe in does not strike most people as the best way to spend an evening. It is, however, the only way that we will move forward. It is the way that next steps become possible. Only after the process of reflecting upon what you believe will really be able to see if it goes against what I believe. When you haven’t analyzed your own thoughts on education, when you lack vision, anyone’s vision will do.

    I would take this even further, now. Everyone should be going through this process, not just “leaders.” All educators should have vision and be able to articulate it well. It gets everything out on the table and allows for a high level of discourse. There is no way to persuade someone to change unless they know what they are changing from.

    So, how do we get everyone to articulate their visions? Assigning it is inauthentic. Dictating it is counterintuitive. It has to come from a place of passion. It has to come from the heart.

    Any Thoughts?

  2. […] like Wesley Fryer did for this post, I too will cross-post a […]

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    Ben: Thanks for the cross-post. The key to all of this is dialog and conversation. I think this gets to the heart of what it means to be a “reflective practitioner,” which used to be part of the motto of the college of education at Texas Tech before I went to work there. (I didn’t change the motto, a new dean did I think.)

    Part of the answer here is making the case for change. A lot of times I find myself talking about new tools, new strategies, new ideas for content creation and collaboration, but probably not spending enough time “making the case” that things need to change. That is a working assumption during many presentations I hear at edtech conferences and in many of the conversations going on out here in the edublogosphere. I think it is naive to assume all understand or buy into the need for change, however. I articulated a few of what might be main talking points in “making this case” today on a presentation wiki I worked on. This is what I wrote and linked:

    ENGAGEMENT: The goal of enthralling students for 8 hours per day is a pipe dream. Our goal should be ENGAGING students rather than ENTRALLING learners with lecture, paper and pencil exercises, their textbooks, and fear-based approaches to motivation and operant conditioning

    RESEARCHED-BASED METHODS FOR IMPROVING STUDENT LEARNING / ACHIEVEMENT: See “Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement ” by Robert J. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering, Jane E. Pollock (How are these research-based “best practices” supported with blended learning methodologies and tools?)

    DIFFERENTIATED LEARNING: Essential for ALL learners, deepest and widest possibilities are via blended learning

    AUDIENCE: Changing perceptions of audience can change everything.

    REAL WORLD SKILLS: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills and other groups have articulated compelling reasons why the workforce of the 21st century requires more skills than the classroom model of the 19th century can provide.

    I think top down leadership IS a key part of all this, and can’t be ignored, but there are ways to advance this agenda besides appealing to positional school leaders, speaking to them, writing to them, or trying to join their ranks formally. One key is being noticed. That is where I think student publication of work in interactive, public, digital spaces comes in, along with collaboration. What we are talking about here is CULTURAL change, and that doesn’t happen fast. Is there a “tipping point” for cultural change when it comes to digitally engaged learning, or whatever term we want to give this. (I agree the term IS important, btw.) I am not sure. 1:1 learning contexts can be a tipping point, but only if the administrative leadership and vision for pedagogic change is there too. It isn’t always.

    This is really a BIG and important question. I don’t have the answers and I’m probably talking too much. I’m eager to hear others’ views on this.

  4. Rodd Lucier says:

    In order to get more teachers thinking about how they can engage learners in collaborative experiences, they need exemplars. This is one of many reasons that we developed a menu of Rich Performance Tasks.

    At times it has meant co-teaching a task with a teacher, but once they see it in action, they get it and can begin to model it… Change happens not only by the will of the teacher, but by the power of modeling best practices.

  5. Wesley Fryer says:

    Rodd: Thanks for sharing this link, these look great. For some reason the audio explanations on the two student pages I visited didn’t play, however. This looks like a great format for showing teachers what digitally engaged learning can and should look like. The importance of helping teachers “see it” was a primary theme of Dr. Tim Tyson in his presentation “The Blogging School” in New Hampshire back in September. I agree that is very key.

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