Leading the Charge

I had an interesting conversation with a friend online recently.  She asked “Why do teachers use or continue to use ABC when their district purchased XYZ“? 

It’s a really good question.

I think it’s a sign of the times and it’s not simply a question of resisting change.

There was a time when people would just blindly follow the lead of those in authority who make those type of decisions.  There was also a time where you would talk with the teacher across the hall or perhaps in the staffroom and use that as a place for conversations, collaborations or professional learning.

Times have changed.

There was a time when inspiration might come in the form of an email.  That’s hardly the case now.  In fact, for many people, email is the last digital place checked.

Now, your next best collaboration or conversation may come from half a world away.  It may be ongoing or it might be just for the moment.  Either works successfully.  With the proper network, there’s always someone ready to learn with you.

On the open web, we have the best digital smorgasbord in the world.  We have choice.

To quote another friend of mine, “I go where my friends are”.

Those who would be leaders need to be aware of this and use it to inform their decisions. 

Heck, they need to lead the charge to this wonderful world of learning.



  1. Hey Doug,

    This is indeed an interestjng conversation. I have been reflecting on the value of conversations and collaboration – online and face to face. I believe that both are important, obviously (or not?).

    In the example you provide of teacher continuing to use ABC when district has purchased XYZ, both side is the story need to be explored. Say, for example, that ABC is a pay for subscription digital content curation and licensing outfit with a strong social media presence and teacher is an avid social media user, claiming that social media platforms provide the very best personalized professional learning. Teacher will likely have many arguments for continuing to use it and will likely have her bias towards it confirmed by her online friends, who might include reps from ABC’s social media wing. What if the district elects not to purchase a license for ABC, whether driven by financial considerations or philosophical beliefs — in this example, perhaps the belief that freely available content exists on the net and there is value in the teacher going through the “rigmarole” of locating it (digital fluency skills)– or both, and instead provides professional learning opportunities geared towards developing teachers’ capacity to find and use digital content relevant to the learning needs of the students in the classroom? Who is leading the charge?

    To push back a little, the conversations in hallways, classrooms and the staff room at my school are very rich. Sometimes they include ideas that someone has found online, but the real value is the work that is done together at the school to close the classroom to classroom equity gap. The most powerful conversations have our actual students – their faces, needs and strengths – at the centre. The collective work of changing the narrative for these individuals is at the heart if true educational change.

    This doesn’t mean there is no value in sharing best practices online, but we need to think carefully about why we are doing what we are doing in our classrooms, rather than being blindly led by others – online or face to face.

    Long winded response!


  2. I feel it’s important for users of ABC and for users of XYZ to know that neither is “right”, and you don’t need to evangelize for your favourite product/service/approach. You should share, absolutely, but don’t poo-poo someone else’s chosen web service just because you made a different choice. In particular, there is a danger in the “early adopters” poisoning system-wide strategies that don’t match their perspectives.

    For everyone, it’s important to consider what you use and why. It’s also important to respect others’ choices and to have the meaningful conversation.

    Thanks again, Doug. I’m going to be referring to this post in the future, and it’s made me reflect on my own perspective.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s