Monday, December 13, 2010

Learning Together

My commentary and reflection on visionary leadership:

The mission and goal of this group may seem obvious due to the circumstances. The task may appear easy to outside observers but in fact it is very difficult and requires distributed leadership. There are likely new tools or new methods that could be used to make the task more efficient and safe. Most of the participants seem to be working together with their peers purposefully towards a common goal. However, it is evident some are contributing more than others and some appear to be bystanders for this particular task. The group members are utilizing their strengths but may be moving too quickly. The group did not test out the process or strategy on a small scale before proceeding. In addition, the group did not consider the risks and collect and analyze sufficient data from the environment before proceeding with the strategy. The bystanders did not protect the group’s blindside and help predict the unintended consequences and results. Luckily, the group is familiar with the philosophy of “Getting to Maybe” and recognizes the value of learning from both successes and challenges. Through this experience the group learned the importance of taking time to collect sufficient data from the environment, working collectively as a team, looking out for eachother’s blindsides and considering strategies for implementation from multiple perspectives.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Candidacy Process – The Secret

I thought it would be appropriate to blog about the candidacy process since I have been receiving so many questions about my experience. First I will begin by describing the two parts to candidacy. As required by the faculty of education at the University of Calgary, after completing a research proposal there are two parts to complete in order to meet the candidacy requirements: (a) 28-day written exam and (b) oral exam. Due to my schedule both with work and family commitments, I decided the complete the written exam during July 2010 and the oral exam in August 2010. I believe the most important part of candidacy is to select a time that can be mainly devoted to those tasks. My supervisory committee provided three questions which were emailed to me on July 2nd, 2010. I spent the first week contemplating which question I wanted to respond to and gathering books, articles and related readings. I really wanted to respond to all three questions but needed to narrow the focus to only one. I selected the question that seemed most meaningful to me at that point in time and the question which I thought would benefit my current professional work in the field. During week two, I refined a conceptual framework of the paper including a diagram and outline to focus my writing and to keep me organized. During week three the paper started to come together and had a cohesive flow. I dedicated the final week to reviewing and checking references and final editing. On day 28, I submitted the paper to my supervisory committee along with two external members invited to participate in the candidacy exam. Some members preferred to receive a digital copy while others preferred a printed copy of the paper.

Three weeks later…

The oral exam took place at the University in a conference room with the candidacy committee members present (one via phone) along with a neutral chair. I started by briefly presenting a “behind the scenes” perspective about my candidacy paper using a slide presentation. The committee members were briefed on my previous research and practical work experiences that led me to the field. I shared some of the organizational tables and diagrams that assisted in writing the paper and those I chose to exclude from the final version. In some cases I chose to exclude tables that may have appeared redundant with the associated text. In addition, I shared how the ideas in the paper establish a gap in the literature, specifically regarding how leaders cultivate instructional improvements integrating technology and strengthen the need to conduct research in the field. Each member of the committee asked a question and sometimes the questions involved two or three parts. I found it helpful to (a) jot down notes while the questions were being asked; (b) have a copy of my candidacy paper at my fingertips with post it notes identifying key sections/authors; and (c) have a copy of my research proposal also ready for quick reference. I tried to respond to each question with specific examples from the literature and from my own practical experiences. The two-hour exam period gave each committee member an opportunity to ask approximately two questions.

Two hours later…

I left the room while the committee reviewed my oral exam responses and voted pass or fail. I just wanted someone to pinch me to make sure it really was over and wasn’t a dream. I imagined my alarm clock ringing and waking up to go through the experience all over again. I was certain that I didn’t answer all the questions to the best of my ability but hoped the answers demonstrated my understanding of the field and passion to conduct research related to educational technology and leadership. It was huge relief to go back into the room and shake hands with the committee members ….I knew the exam was over and I passed.

As I reflect on the experience and search for advice that I would give doctoral students embarking on the candidacy journey, I believe one book that may help with advice is the “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. What is the secret? “The secret is the law of attraction” (2006, p.4) or in other words like thoughts attracts like thoughts. For example, it is important to think positively about candidacy and those positive thoughts will attract like thoughts. Byrne contends that “if you can think about what you want in your mind, and make that your dominant thought, you will bring it into your life” (p.9). According to Byrne, it is necessary to follow three steps: (1) ask, (2) believe and (3) receive.

1. Ask - You need to be clear in your mind about what you want (i.e. your research passion).

2. Believe – act, speak and think about candidacy as if it has already occurred. Instead of rehearsing your presentation for the oral exam, rehearse the presentation you will do for a class of upcoming graduate students about your past candidacy experience.

3. Receive –experience how you will feel once the exam is complete and you are able to move to the next step of your research.

Hope this helps!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

ISTE10 Reflections

I attended the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference in Denver Colorado from June 27-June 30, 2010. There were thousands of attendees at the conference, many sporting ipads or other small mobile devices, and all there to connect, collaborate and communicate about my favorite topic - educational technology. I would like to reflect on the people, the places and the practices as the basis of my conference experience.
The people included the random individuals I met during shuttle rides, walking to and from the conference centre, session presenters/researchers, session participants and many of the vendors. I follow a few more individuals on twitter and a few more follow me too! I have a stack of business cards and list of blogs to review. I now have faces and voices to associate with many individuals whose work I had only read before or names I had only heard of before.

Beyond the Colorado Convention Centre (CCC), the places of learning included the online spaces which amplified the conference experience for me. I already felt like a participant at the conference before I even arrived due to the pre-conference tweets. In the online space, I was able to see a video tour of the CCC and knew exactly where to register before arriving, I knew how much the shuttle should cost from the airport to downtown Denver, I knew many of the presenters and bits about their presentations without ever having met any of them in person. I downloaded the mobile app, pre-selected the sessions I was interested in attending and even created my conference planner in advance. During the conference, I was able to keep up with the daily edition news, follow tweets with the #iste10 hashtag and even view broadcasts of some sessions that I didn’t attend in-person. I know the online spaces will continue to be a wealth of information and learning for me beyond the sessions I was able to attend at the conference.

The conference offered a variety of professional learning opportunities which I will refer to as practices. The session type I was most unsure about was likely the one I benefitted from most. This was the first time I attended research paper roundtable sessions and was impressed by the depth of dialogue and questioning that occurred during these sessions. The informal nature of the research roundtable sessions was appealing and the opportunity to discuss first-hand with the researchers made this type of session more interactive than the large formal ballroom presentations. It was during the roundtable sessions that I networked, exchanged business cards or online contact information with other school leaders and made more connections with conference participants than during any other session.

As I reflect on my experiences in attending the ISTE conference, I definitely gained a deeper understanding of learning today through the people, places and practices that were part of my conference experience. Moreover, there were three categories that emerged for me as highlights from the conference and areas I would like to learn more about: (1) Global Citizenship, (2) Leadership for innovation and transformation and (3) Participation in Networks.

1. Global Citizenship is Critical in Education Today

Jean-Francois Rischard, an economist and author of “High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them” asserts it is critical we focus on resolving urgent global issues over the next twenty years before the problems become impossible to solve. I found a Pdf document which includes a summary of many points made during Rischard’s keynote.

The global issues can be described according to three categories as defined by Rischard:

1. Global commons – tackling issues pertaining to physical spaces in the world

2. Global Conditions – taking care of all humanity

3. Global Rules - establish world-wide rules and new types of accountabilities

He emphasized that the tools we use to solve problems need to change. Students can and should be part of the problem solving. Networked governance is needed (i.e. global issue networks)- “Global networks should appeal to universal values, and seek to resolve global problems in the spirit of global citizenship.” Personally, I found the keynote message an indisputable reminder to make global citizenship an embedded part of what I do professionally and personally.

Similarly, Alan November’s session focused on the importance of empathy as a 21C skill. The supporting article: Digital Learning Farm: Students as Contributors
He suggested students should graduate with knowledge, skills and networks. November demonstrated some simple search techniques that can be utilized to help students search more critically and retrieve information with multiple perspectives (i.e. including site:ca to retrieve information from Canada; other country codes can be found here ) . I reflected on Rischard’s keynote message as well as the complementary message and presentation by November with the following questions: How can we foster global citizenship and incorporate global issues in the curriculum? How can educators help students become active citizens in tackling global issues in collaboration with other students around the world? How can we advance global problem solving? How can educators encourage students to have a global voice?

2. Leadership is necessary for innovation and transformation

Is leadership the missing link to 21C technology integration? According to Timothy Lewis and Margaret Rice, the researchers from the University of Alabama at the roundtable session, leadership is necessary for successful technology implementation including professional learning for superintendents. They discussed a study examining superintendents’ perceptions, knowledge and professional learning preferences relative to the Alabama instructional leadership standards. The findings from the study indicated that superintendent professional learning is the key to successful implementation of emerging technology designed to increase student achievement. The researchers suggest professional learning should focus on visionary leadership and leaders should experience digital-age tools in practice in order to promote a digital-aged learning culture.

How can leadership drive mind shifts and culture shifts? Lemke discussed seven key design elements during her session, Innovative Leadership in a Participatory 2.0 World. The seven design elements included:

1. Own the innovation don't delegate creative work; actions should include technology, multimedia social media and electronic communications should inform decisions

2. Drive change through creativity and knowledge; be informed get connected with customer; learning is very social yet we test individually; need to assess teams; associating - making connections; questioning - imagine opposites wonder, question the unquestionable; observing - Student voice; failure is an opportunity for learning; networking

3. Shift from rules to shared principles; research shows effective teachers positively impact percentile growth; flexibility, creativity and adaptability relationship found in teachers; progress biggest motivator for workers

4. Establish PLC; walkthrough site visitations; few studies show relationship of PD with achievement

5. Shape culture; look for positive deviance

6. Digital access and infrastructure - need solid devices and network

7. Accountability - exhibitions, combo achievement tasks; engagement leads to deep learning

Chris Lehmann, Principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, shared the importance of articulating a clear vision in his session, Beyond Tools: Thoughtful 21C School Reform. His presentation is available at or at the Practical Theory site - (links to videos also included).

I appreciated Lehmann’s metaphor: technology is like oxygen where he accurately described technology as ubiquitous, necessary and invisible. Lehmann described the innovative practices at his school and attributes the transformation to a continual process of aligning practices with the common vision. He discussed alignment of core values, such as, inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection with indicators for success. For example, project based learning is used as a method of assessment instead of typical end of unit tests, for students to demonstrate learning outcomes and their level of performance. Inquiry is at the heart of the school vision which aligns with project based learning methods. Lehmann asked us to examine one system or structure in our schools and consider how we can change it to better reflect our core values/mission.

Here’s some great questions for consideration and used by Lehmann during his session:

Who are the stakeholders? How can they be brought into this vision? What fears to do you need to address? How will the student voice be part of the discussion? What is the worst consequence of your best idea? How can you mitigate them? What are the obstacles to this change? How can you overcome them? How are the lives of teachers different in this model? How are the students’ lives different? How will you deal with the change?

3. Active Participation in Networks is Essential

As educators, do we block or enable the very tools that were used to win the last presidential election?

I saw Kathy Schrock present over a decade ago when she was teaching a whole generation about the ABCs of the Internet and evaluating websites at a time when schools were setting up dial up connections to the Internet. At the ISTE10 conference, I was equally impressed seeing Schrock present her session recommending “A Dose of Twitter for Every Day of the Year.” I am a tweep according to Schrock and agree that twitter has become one of my trusted and most frequently used professional learning networks. Her session provided many suggestions on how to use twitter more effectively. Schrock’s presentation an various links can be accessed at

The panel discussion regarding “Unblocking the Web to Unlock Learning” was fascinating due to the variety of practices and perspectives that emerged from the audience and the panel members. The wiki used during the session can be found at

It was evident there is not one common method of filtering across schools. Certainly there are types of unquestionable media that require filtering; however, the manner in which all other media is filtered is not easily agreed upon by teachers. The process of blocking or unblocking sites is also different across districts. In some cases filtering resides with IT personnel or as discussed during the session, in some districts teachers have the authority to unblock sites they deem educationally appropriate. There is a tension between keeping students safe yet providing learning opportunities for responsible and appropriate use. Should we restrain or train? How do we make decisions regarding social media that we ourselves have never utilized for learning? How can we determine how to use social media and mobile technology effectively if they are blocked/banned and can’t be accessed in schools? How can leaders shift mindsets for learning? How will leaders gain in-depth experiences with digital devices and online environments in order to cultivate 21st century learning environments?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

How to transform learning in schools? A response.

This is response to a blog post – How to transform learning in schools?
I appreciated reading this blog post as it provoked me to reflect on how I define the terms improvement and transformation. I agree that improvement and transformation have different meanings, yet seem to be interchangeable in some educational literature. Will improvement lead to transformation? Will transformation lead to improvement? My argument is that improvement can lead to transformation. I also believe in beginning with the possibilities or “end in mind” which means that having a transformation “in mind” can lead to improvement.

When I reflect on my experiences and interest in studying school reform, I believe improvements can lead to transformation. If improvement is the progress towards something better, then an improvement can be defined as the action taken or process when striving for change. An increase in value, quality or condition would be reasons for implementing an improvement. In education, I believe an improvement refers to what we do or enact in order to achieve a change. Typical educational improvements involve instructional improvements, such as changes to teaching, learning and assessment. An example of an instructional improvement would be to leverage technology in making provisions for continuous feedback loops. The improvement, in this case, may be better student writing. This should not be confused with the transformation that may eventually take place over time.

Transformation is the scaffolded change that may occur as a result of implementing the improvement over time. After a period of time, there may be evidence that continuous feedback resulted in a transformation of student writing or shift from very simple and non-specific writing to more descriptive and detailed pieces of writing. This marked change would be considered a transformation. In recent projects involving innovative instructional changes, I have observed changes over time in the people, practices and places. Perhaps a dialogue about the “end in mind” regarding the people, their practices and places they learn, would help in developing perspective regarding the purpose of schools. How would the people (i.e. students, teachers, parents, administrators, etc.) change due to the implementation of an improvement? How would their practices change over time? How would the physical and digital spaces evolve?

What would transformation look like from your perspective?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Developing an Understanding of 21st Century Learning

The purpose of this blog post is to provide a synopsis of ideas presented by various organizations and authors in order to develop an understanding of 21st century learning. The synopsis is organized by the following guiding questions:

1. How is 21st century learning defined?
2. What are 21st century skills?
3. What are 21st century media literacies?
4. What are the standards of 21st century learning?
5. What are the principles for 21st century learning?
6. What constitutes a 21st century learning environment?
7. Are Canadian students currently engaged at school?
8. What do 21st century learners want schooling to become?
9. What program structures impact 21st century learning curriculum?
10. How does online learning meet the needs of 21st century learners?
11. What is the global achievement gap?
12. What is the role of technology in 21st century learning?
13. What does leadership for 21st century schools look like?
14. What do leaders need to know about 21st century learning?
15. What are some other sources for developing an understanding of 21st century learning?

1. How is 21st century learning defined?
The framework provides a holistic view of 21st century teaching and learning. It presents a vision for 21st century student outcomes (a blending of content knowledge, specific skills, expertise and literacies) and support systems needed. The elements represented by the rainbow are the knowledge, skills and expertise students should master to succeed in work and life in the 21st Century. The paper defines each element in the rainbow and includes additional sub categories.

What are the critical systems necessary to ensure student mastery of 21st century skills? The elements described below the rainbow are the critical systems: standards, assessments, curriculum, instruction, PD, and learning environments must be aligned to produce a support system that produces 21st century outcome for today’s students.

Note: This paper is current (2009) and a quick read (9 pages); could be helpful in identifying 21st century skills and how to incorporate them into teaching and learning.
Source: Partnership for 21st Century Skills: P21 Framework Definitions Document. (2009).

2. What are 21st century skills?
The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory's (NCREL) "enGauge" is a Web-based framework that describes six essential conditions, or system-wide factors critical to the effective use of technology for student learning. In addition to the framework, the "enGauge" Web site includes an online survey instrument that allows districts and schools to conduct online assessments of system-wide educational technology effectiveness. These skills are not at odds with traditional educational skills, but are, in fact, extensions of those skills, adapted to new technologies and new work environments.

The publication consists of five main sections, following an introduction. The first section, "Digital-Age Literacy," discusses basic, scientific and technological literacies; visual and information literacies; and cultural literacy and global awareness. The second section, "Inventive Thinking," focuses on adaptability/ability to manage complexity; curiosity, creativity, and risk-taking; and higher-order thinking and sound reasoning. Section three, "Effective Communication," deals with teaming, collaboration, and interpersonal skills; personal and social responsibility; and interactive communication. The fourth section, "High Productivity," discusses the ability to prioritize, plan, and manage for results; effective use of real-world tools; and relevant, high-quality products. Section five, "Information Technology," identifies possible social effects with regard to information technology. Two other sections provide a brief summary and references.
Note: This publication is 88 pages and describes a set of 21st century skills that will be increasingly important to students entering the work force; diagram is frequently referenced in publications. A brief version is available at -
Source: Lemke, C. (2003). enGauge 21st Century Skills: Digital Literacies for a Digital Age. Naperville, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory

3. What are 21st century media literacies?

This white paper suggests schools and afterschool programs must devote more attention to fostering the new media literacies: a set of cultural competencies and social skills that young people need in the new media landscape. Participatory culture shifts the focus of literacy from one of individual expression to community involvement. The new literacies almost all involve social skills developed through collaboration and networking. These skills build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom.

The new skills include:
Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving
Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery
Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes
Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities
Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal
Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.

Note: 72 Pages
Source: Jenkins H. ( 2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for 21st Century.

4. What are the standards of 21st century learning?
Learners use skills, resources & tools to: (1) inquire, think critically and gain knowledge; (2) draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge; (3) share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society; (4) pursue personal and aesthetic growth.
Note: 8 pages
Source: American Association for School Librarians: Standards for the 21st Century Learner. (2008).

5. What are the principles for 21st century learning?

• Focus on 21st century skills and content. Students need to know how as well as what in order to participate fully in the modern world.
• Give students the context of the topics they are studying. Students want to know why a given topic is relevant, as well as understand how to inscribe the topic in an overarching personal construct.
• Promote deeper engagement with core subjects through analysis and synthesis, not merely descriptive or memorized facts. In a world of facts at our fingertips, depth of knowledge matters more than breadth.
• Build understanding across disciplinary categories through 21st century themes. Meaningful problems are usually complex and boundary-spanning.
• Engage students with the real world data, tools, and experts they will encounter in college, on the job, and in life. Students learn best when actively engaged in solving meaningful problems.
• Go beyond content knowledge to identify other 21st century educational support systems. Coherent curricula, powerful professional development opportunities, and engaging learning environments are essential to a 21st century education system.
• Allow for multiple measures of mastery. The richness of 21st century learning requires a matching range of assessments, from standardized tests to technology-enhanced, classroom, and performance-based assessments.
• Use accountability as an indicator of progress, rather than a system of sanctions, to guide systemic improvement of students, teachers, and schools.

Note: 12 pages
Source: Partnership for 21st Century Skills: 21st Century Skills Standards. (2007).

6. What constitutes a 21st century learning environment?
The paper offers a descriptive view of the places, tools, people, and policies that make up 21st century learning environments. The paper addresses the relationship of physical spaces and technological systems to learning, but more importantly, considers how those resources support the positive human relationships that matter most to learning.
21st century learning environment as an aligned and synergistic system of systems that:
- Creates learning practices, human support and physical environments that will support the teaching and learning of 21st century skill outcomes
-Supports professional learning communities that enable educators to collaborate, share best practices, and integrate 21st century skills into classroom practice
-Enables students to learn in relevant, real world 21st century contexts (e.g., through project-based or other applied work)
-Allows equitable access to quality learning tools, technologies, and resources
-Provides 21st century architectural and interior designs for group, team, and individual learning.
Supports expanded community and international involvement in learning, both face-to-face and online

Note: This document is detailed (34 pages); great guide for leaders; shift from focus on teaching to learning; includes PLC’s as a strategy
Source: Partnership for 21st Century Skills: 21st Century Learning Environments. (2009).

7. Are Canadian students currently engaged at school?
This research initiative explores social, academic and intellectual engagement. Students complete an online survey regarding their learning experiences. Schools use the data as a catalyst to work collaboratively in creating effective and engaging learning environments.

The initiative advances these four contentions:
· Teaching practices exist that enable all students to achieve at high levels.
· Certain teaching practices and learning processes engage students in deeper and more sustained learning.
· The achievement gap could be narrowed, if not eliminated, by consistently using the teaching practices that we know are effective.
· Students have a better educational experience when teachers and students actively collaborate in the process of improvement.

Source: Willms, J. D., Friesen, S. & Milton, P. (2009). What did you do in school today? Transforming classrooms through social, academic, and intellectual engagement. (First National Report) Toronto: Canadian Education Association.

8. What do 21st century learners want schooling to become?
Secondary students across Canada were asked to articulate what they understood school to be and to articulate what they wanted schooling to become. They identified three places: the learning program (what they needed to learn), learning relationships (who they needed to learn from and with) and learning spaces (where they needed to learn).
Source: Friesen, S., & Jardine, D. (2009). 21st Century Learning and Learners. Western and Northern Canadian Curriculum Protocol.

9. What program structures impact 21st century learning curriculum?
This book provides ideas for the following key areas: content and assessment, program structures, technology, media literacy, globalization, sustainability, and habits of mind.
Jacobs, H. (2010). Curriculum 21 Essential Education for a Changing World. Alexandria, VA: ASCD Publications.

10. How does online learning meet the needs of 21st century learners?
This report examines the growing student interest for online learning and how schools are meeting that demand. This report highlights how students are utilizing technology to become "free agent learners" and driving the demand for more online classes in and out of school. Yet, our schools are limiting online classes to remediation and credit recovery for students, and primarily focusing their online learning initiatives towards professional development for teachers. Through this report you will gain insight, from schools and districts across the nation, about why students and teachers want access to classes online, the current challenges faced by districts with online learning implementations, and how online learning presents unprecedented opportunities for meeting the needs of our 21st century learner. (8 pages)

Source: Project Tomorrow. Learning in the 21st Century: 2009 Trends Update. (2009).

11. What is the global achievement gap?
The global achievement gap is the gap between what we are teaching and testing in our schools, even in the ones that are most highly-regarded, versus the skills all students will need for careers, college, and citizenship in the 21st century. According to Wagner’s book, the seven survival skills are critical thinking and problem solving; collaboration across networks and leading by influence; agility and adaptability; initiative and entrepreneurship; effective oral and written communication; accessing and analyzing information; and curiosity and imagination.

Source: Wagner, T. (2008). The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need - and What We Can Do About It New York, NY: Basic Books.

12. What is the role of technology in 21st century learning?
Technology has a fundamental role to play in creating a 21st century education system. What will it take to maximize the impact of technology? It will take a clear vision of a 21st century education and an understanding of technology’s role. It will require reliable and equitable access to technology and planned, ongoing investments. And it will require substantive and meaningful professional development for educators. More than anything else, though, it will take inspirational leadership and action from all stakeholders. The action principles and resources in this report provide a starting point for moving forward.
Note: 24 pages

Source: Maximizing the Impact: The pivotal role of technology in a 21st century education system.

13. What does leadership for 21st century schools look like?
The report highlights how education technology visionaries are creating 21st century schools. The authors discuss 21st century realities, challenges, the ultimate 21st century school, persistent challenges to technology integration, measures for calculating success, online learning, mobile devices, visionary administrators and schools of the future.
Note: 23 pages
Source: Leadership in the 21st Century: The New Visionary Administrator. (2008). Project Tomorrow

14. What do leaders need to know about 21st century learning?
This book is aligned with the newly refreshed NETS for administrators and describes how to lead and develop schools that meet the needs of today’s learners. There is an emphasis on 21st century skills including collaboration, communication, and creation/creativity.
Schrum, L., Levin, B. (2009). Leading 21st Century Schools: Harnessing Technology for Engagement and Achievement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

15. What are some other sources for developing an understanding of 21st century learning?

Learning to Change Changing to Learn, 5:35 (Anderson, 2008) – various well known educators, CEO’s and University professors provide insight on change in the 21st century.

A Vision of K-12 Students Today, 4:09 (Nesbitt, 2007) – this project was create to inspire teachers to use technology in engaging ways to help students develop higher level thinking skills.

New Literacies for a New Age, 2:52 (Meijers, 2008) – a fable illustrated for teachers.

American Teens and Social Media, 7:09 (2009) - A remix of... Danah Boyd's dissertation on teenagers and their patterns of using social media. Danah is Social Media Researcher at Microsoft Research New England.


Speak Out is an opportunity for Alberta’s youth to share their experiences and ideas and to help the people who make decisions about our schools understand the issues that are important to us.

Let me know if you have other questions/resources to add to the list!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Twitter: A Professional Learning Network

Everett M. Rogers known for the “Diffusion of Innovation” model classifies individuals as they pass through various stages of adopting innovation. The following stages are described by Rogers (2005):
1. Innovators – the first 2.5% of adopters, risk-takers, change-agents, willing to pursue initial challenges, bugs, etc.
2. Early Adopters – the next 13.5% of adopters, opinion leaders, visionaries, like to try new ideas
3. Early Majority – the next 34% of adopters, careful and accepting of change, motivated by evolutionary changes, want things to move quickly
4. Late Majority – the next 34% of adopters, skeptical, traditional, will use once the majority is already using it
5. Laggards – the last 16% of adopters, like status quo, critical, will use once it becomes mainstream

My Stages of Twitter Adoption
A colleague introduced me to Twitter (a micro blogging service) and persuaded me to create an account. I believe my colleague could be identified as an “Innovator” in Roger’s stages of adoption. There were very few people using Twitter at the time. It was difficult at that time to really understand what one could do in Twitter or the value as there were not many users (that is, from my perspective). During one of my summer classes in July 2009 as I was building a pathfinder wiki to determine my research interests, I came across a number of scholars in the educational technology field that were using Twitter. I decided it was time to login to my account that had been abandoned for quite some time. Would I be considered an early adopter or in the early majority according to Roger's stages of adoption? The turning point for me was when I made the decision to use Twitter to build a professional learning network. After implementing Twitter on a regular basis for six months into my daily routine, I would like to share the benefits in building a professional learning network.

When I first heard about Twitter, I too did not see the value in reading 140 character updates about “What’s happening.” However, once I started using Twitter and following people also interested in educational technology, I immediately saw the benefits, such as:
1) Connecting - I connect to others with a similar interest in the field of educational technology. When I check Twitter (generally once per day from my iphone), I receive numerous links, tips, articles, thought-provoking questions, etc. that I can choose to ignore or pursue. The majority of tweets are ones that I click on and pursue further.

2) Sharing- I generally tweet once per day to share resources related to educational technology with others (i.e. links to blogs, wikis, books, podcasts, video clips, conferences, articles)

3) Organizing - By tweeting I also have an accumulated list of all my tweets now sorted by date and stored in my profile. Anyone can access or search this list.

4) Collaborating – there are people I know that do not work/live in close proximity. We can now collaborate in finding and sharing resources and ideas through Twitter.

5) Providing Feedback – the idea of having a backchannel and using this in professional development settings is one that I will be exploring further this week. Participants find it intriguing to see how Twitter can be used as a means of asking a presenter questions or providing immediate feedback.

6) Communicating – most of the communication is happening asynchronously in Twitter. I’m also noticing that Twitter is being used to organize synchronous chat/video events.

7) Corroborating – I often retweet posts that I find useful. When I read messages that begin with RT (for retweets), I consider it a validation that now more than one individual found the message valuable to read.

All of the benefits I have found in using Twitter are based on a reciprocal relationship between producer-consumer. Sometimes I’m a producer and sometimes I’m a consumer in Twitter. Similarly, Clay Shirky’s video, “How Social Media can Make History” emphasizes the idea of the reciprocal relationship between producer-consumer. Shirky also indicates that media is "less about crafting a single message" and more about inviting discussion and provoking thought about the message. Marshall McLuhan had a good point and was so ahead of his time- the medium is the, global, ubiquitous, cheap!

Eric Marvin posted a great question on his "Teaching Teachers" blog at

What leading twitter questions should guide the tweets of a PLN?
I reflected on Mark’s question as well as my own adoption of Twitter which led to some questions to guide the tweets of educational technology PLN's:
· How are you contributing to the field of educational technology?
· What resources would you recommend to those interested in educational technology?
· What are others contributing to the field of educational technology that you would like to share with your PLN?
· What questions do you have that may stimulate professional dialogue regarding educational technology?

What are the questions that quide your PLN?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Intention - Action Gap

Policy statements, curriculum mandates, ministerial orders and standards all serve to provide intention, that is, to improve student achievement for 21st century learning. However, I believe that closing the implementation gap between intention and action is the critical issue. In addition to acquiring and using new technologies, the challenge for educational technology leaders is “how” to cultivate the adoption of instructional improvements for 21st century learning. I would appreciate any feedback on the following research questions.

How do principals cultivate technology-rich instructional improvements?

Sub Questions:
1) To what extent do principals perceive their role in creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources for instructional improvements?

2) What supports do principals require (through various stages of adoption) in order to cultivate technology-rich instructional improvements?

3) How are principals managing the challenges of planning, implementing and sustaining technology-rich instructional improvements?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Naked Truth about 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change, an Article Summary

The body of evidence shows that the existence of scalable and sustainable effects from educational changes, innovations, and reforms – technological or otherwise- although frequently assumed remain an unrealized goal within education. – Weston & Bain, 2010, p.9
In the article, “The End of Techno-Critique: The Naked Truth about 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change,” the authors present key themes that have emerged from criticism regarding 1:1 laptop initiatives over the last decade based on arguments presented by Larry Cuban (Weston & Bain, 2010). One of the “naked truth” arguments in the article refers to the results from 1:1 initiatives and how these results fall short of the expectations for increased student achievement and better teaching and learning. Another naked truth is that “innovative teaching is the best source for sustainable and scalable achievement gains” (p.7).

Weston and Bain (2010) remind us that other efforts to improve education in the past have also failed to impact teaching and learning and have not resulted in significant effects on student achievement. Similarly, initiatives where students and teachers are provided with laptops and the “access” barrier is removed do not automatically promote innovative teaching. Consequently, there is little evidence of increased student achievement from 1:1 initiatives. Particularly in times of budgetary constraints it seems much easier to blame the innovation for the lack of increased achievement results and then revert to past practices even though the status quo has not proven any impact on student achievement either. What are we missing in all of these efforts? How do we plan and implement scalable and sustainable change?

“When technology enables, empowers, and accelerates a profession’s core transactions, the distinctions between computers and professional practice evaporate” (Weston & Bain, 2010, p.10). What are we doing differently in teaching and learning today with technology that impacts education? Several examples are provided showing how teachers use technology to replace or automate traditional educational practices but struggle to demonstrate uses of technology which enable, empower, and accelerate teaching and learning and assessment. Do educators need to go through a phase of replacement or automation before moving towards more innovative practices? What other interventions are required to support innovative practices that enable, empower and accelerate educational practices?

The authors suggest considering technological tools as cognitive tools, in other words, cognitive tools are seamlessly integrated and necessary for core educational transactions. In using cognitive tools in conjunction with proven research-based practices in teaching and learning and assessment, it is speculated that classrooms will be “differentiated in genuine ways for all students” and that “students, parents and teachers [would] use cognitive tools every day to collaborate about what to do next in their collective pursuit for learning” (Weston & Bain, 2010, p.11). What are the prerequisites for schools contemplating scalable and sustainable initiatives with cognitive tools? What are the components necessary to become a self-organizing school?

Six Components
1. Develop an explicit set of rules defining beliefs about teaching and learning for the school community (i.e. cooperation, curriculum, feedback, time, etc.).
2. Embed the rules into day-to-day actions and processes of the school (i.e. space, classroom organization, equipment, job descriptions, career paths, salary scales, curriculum documents, classroom practice, performance evaluation, technology, professional development).
3. Clearly articulate roles and responsibilities to ensure all members of the school community are actively engaged in creating, adapting and sustaining the embedded design of the school.
4. Generate real-time, all the time feedback from all members of the school community regarding the embedded design in order to promote ownership and accountability.
5. Develop a dynamic and explicit schema (i.e. a shared conceptual framework for practice) of the interplay of rules, design, collaboration and feedback.
6. Community members demand systemic and ubiquitous use of technology guided by their schema.

Technology alone is not the solution in driving the change that must occur in schools today. However, if we begin to use technology as cognitive tools and combine this with practices necessary for scalable and sustainable change, then we may have a chance in realizing the goal of meeting the educational needs of all students.

Weston, M.E. & Bain, A. (2010). The End of Techno-Critique: The Naked Truth about
1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change. Journal of Technology, Learning, and
Assessment, 9(6).