Monthly Archives: June 2010
I wrote the following in response to a request that I received. Well, I misunderstood what was wanted. The book is about collaborative technologies and creating global citizens. I thought I was supposed to share my journey, but really they wanted a story about students today. I spent a couple of days thinking about this and I actually typed it up, so I thought I would share it here. It is relevant this week as I have supported the 123VC: JAZZ training which exemplifies my teaching and learning philosophy better than anything else I have ever been involved with.
What is the most important educational event you’ve experienced?
I would have to say that the most important educational event I have experienced would be VirtCamp, the first week of my masters program at Pepperdine University in 2000. My professors structured the environment so that each learner could contribute to our final project and document our learning. It was a dramatic shift for me as a learner from the directed instructions that I had been accustomed to. During that week, I learned that it is not the technology that is important, but rather, how you structure lessons and enable learners to guide their learning and how meaning is constructed through social, collaborative interactions.
This week introduced me to the concepts of constructivism/constructionism, Seymour Papert, and other educational thinkers that significantly shaped my educational philosophy. Everything that we learned was modeled for us by our professors. We were expected to be in charge of our learning and to document and share it. What we learned during this week was the foundation for how to effectively collaborate and co-create. That is what is sometimes missing in the explosive pace of “cool tools” in the current state of educational technology. The curriculum and how to collaborate comes first, not some blinky website where you can create an animation in “3 EZ steps”.
What kinds of technology tools were used?
This was before the advent of many of what are known as Web 2.0 technologies. We used AIM for text chat, websites for course requirements and portfolios, TappedIn for synchronous meetings, and newsgroups for discussions. I did not even have a webcam! All of these technologies supported learning quite well. The two tools that I use today that would have been helpful then would be video conferencing and RSS for keeping up with the flow of conversation and content creation.
How did this experience impact you, personally?
This event is significant in my development as a learner, a teacher, and a leader. As a learner, I learned that in order to get the most out of any situation, I must set goals and expectations for myself. I had to become comfortable asking questions, answering challenges, and leading groups. As a teacher, I must continually examine what my students need to learn, how to best model that and structure the learning environment to enable them to meet their goals. As a leader, it is my responsibility to set the ground rules and expectations for collaboration so that distributed teams can achieve goals in a timely manner.
I definitely believe without this week of learning to collaborate and learn with others from across the nation, I would not have developed the larger view of education and perspectives. This week enabled me to see what is possible and not to quietly accept the status quo. We can always to better.
One of my favorite quotes is from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Collaborative technologies enable small groups of passionate, thoughtful people to achieve amazing results. The principles of collaboration, authentic learning, and active participation are the guiding principles for all of the student projects that I design for our clients at Whirlidurb™. The elements of how to teach effectively are the foundations of our 123VC training (www.123vc.org). It is the hardest training to prepare for and to facilitate, but the teachers who participate in the training continually rate it as one of the best professional development sessions that they have ever attended.
Without my journey beginning in the summer of 2000 at Pepperdine, I don’t think I would have the strong educational foundation to layer technology tools upon.