Day 1 of our professional development event sponsored by OTF and ECOO is in the books. Technically, there was a glitch or two as technology doesn’t always play nice at things like this but overall, participants left with their boundaries definitely expanded.
Unless napping, the folks in the room (100-200?) all have Twitter and Delicious accounts and a brand new blog to their name. Will Richardson is the facilitator of this event designed to raise awareness of what the key issues are as we move educational environments forward to a destination unknown. Even three years ago, we didn’t have this sense of empowerment that these tools provide. The day was filled with a number of direct activities that guided the audience to success, and yet, had enough flexibility to differentiate based upon need. Even though there was room for some showcases by teachers, Will’s overall message was that teachers had to come to grips and learn the tools themselves before taking the next step. Wise advice.
Mid-morning, we had a presentation by Bob Fisher from OSSTF about advice for using these technologies with students. I was really interesting in hearing this message because this has to be one of the bigger myths of our time. We’re hearing that the advice from our Federations is that you should never use these technologies or email in the classroom, period. Mr. Fisher’s message was considerably different. He reminded us that one of our duties as teachers is to protect students and manage any risks appropriately. In a day and age when we’re providing instruction of entire courses online through eLearning Ontario, you know that there has to be some sort of middle ground. Of course, just like avoiding accidents by never driving your car, there are absolute ways but the Federations are mindful that things are changing. As the talk proceeded, the words “Common Sense” kept rolling through my mind. At this point, there is no formal policy document or direction for the province but the need for one was certainly made abundantly clear. It really is needed.
Throughout the day, Will spoke with the passion for students that sends the message to all that we need can ignore this. If we’re not teaching students about these technologies, who is? Students are collaborative by nature, let’s give them good reasons for doing it. I captured this video with my RCA Small Wonder when Will was talking about online writing.
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It was a long day. We did manage to share and find a whack of new friends on Twitter; we created networks of resource sharers on Delicious; we learned how to turn RSS into a productivity management system; and we hopefully will start to work the web smarter than before.
Then, comes the million dollar question – “Where do you find the time to do all this?”. The answer is based in reality. You need to stop doing some things to embrace the new things. For example, don’t rely on Google to find things. Use your network whether it be a plea on Twitter or through your Delicious network where you have folks working and researching for you. Don’t rely on your one newspaper subscription to get all your news – aggregate it through your Reader.
As a group, we’re expanding our boundaries and thoughts. On to Day Two…what a great way to spend a Saturday.
A reminder that a live backchannel is available at: http://www.chatzy.com/837020922393
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