flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Here is the blurb for my session at Leading a Digital School Conference:

How many fantastic ideas or initiatives have failed not because of the strength of the idea, but because it failed to be heard. Change need not be restricted to the lone nut. This session is about using the power of technology to transform ideas into movements. From sharing a collaborative document to creating an online community, this presentation will be full of possibilities and how they can be used to drive change. Aaron will provide a different way of seeing change and demonstrate how technology is the leverage that every idea needs to go from good to great.

Here are my slides:

Communication, collaboration and creativity exploring the tools of change from Aaron Davis

While here are my notes:

Change, ideas and innovation means many things to many people. For some it is systemic and revolutionary, while for others it is more gradual and occurring each and every day. I feel though that Ewan McIntosh sums up the dilemma best while discussing the concept of the ‘pilot project’, “The ‘beta version’, of our idea is, in fact, an ever-changing final idea. There is no such thing as a pilot.” The reality is change is inevitable. Some ideas take, others are added to the heap. The question then is how do we come up with great ideas and actually make them happen?

One of the enablers of change is technology. As Seth Godin explains in his book Tribes, “The tools are there,  just waiting. All that’s missing is you, and your vision and your passion.” This flourishing potential allows for an amplification of ideas and inspiration. For Simon Sinek states, “There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us.” The question then is: how might we better utilise technology to support change in order to turn ideas into innovations?

It can be hard to make sense of the plethora of applications on offer. To do so, I have divided things up into three categories: communication, collaboration and creativity.

Communication

Social Media: The obvious place for communication online is through various social media platforms. Whether it be Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Nings, Edmodo, LinkedIn or Scootle Community, each offers its own benefits and possibilities. Whether it be using communities in Google+ to share ideas and resources or the power of the hashtag within Twitter to facilitate a world-wide chat, the challenge is to find what works best for you.

Streaming: In recent times, there has been a real rise in streaming applications. Originally, video streaming was limited to programs such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Blackboard Collaborate, but more recently, there has been a rise in different sorts of platforms for streaming content live, including Periscope, Meerkat and Ustream. In addition to that, Voxer, a digital walkie talkie application, has had a dramatic influence on communication. I think that Joe Mazza puts it best when he describes it as his “very own personal podcast”.

Surveys: There are a range of applications which make receiving ideas and feedback so much easier, whether it be Google Forms, Survey Monkey, Verso and Poll Everywhere. Each application has its own intricacies, such as Forms integration with the Google Apps and Poll Everywhere’s real-time engagement.

Splash Page: It is often stated that if you do not tell your story then someone else will tell it for you. One way of telling this story is through a splash page. The most common splash pages are About.Me and Flavors. However, you can just as easily make a splash page using a static blog or as using Mozilla Thimble.

Collaboration

Editors: The most obvious tool for collaboration is via a text editor of some sort. The usual suspects are Google Apps, Microsoft Onenote, Evernote and Hackpad. Each allows for multiple voices in the one space. Although it can be easy to get caught in a debate about which one is best, it can sometimes come down to what the community in question is comfortable with. Another alternative though Padlet. Although limited to texts, images and attachments, sometimes such constraint makes it easier to focus.

Bookmarking: There are many ways to share and collaborate on ideas and information. One answer is through the use of social bookmarking sites, such as Diigo, Delicious, Pearltrees, Pinterest and Educlipper. Each platform allows you to not only add and organise content, but scroll through that which is already there to find information.

Curation: For many social media is too noisy. The challenge then becomes how to manage and curate such streams of information. Curation applications, such as Flipboard, Zite, Feedly, Pocket and Nuzzel, provide a means of benefiting from the room without completely being in the room. These platforms usually require some sort of information from the user, whether it be interactions within the app or connections to other platforms, such as Twitter, in order to provide customised content.

Productivity: A different sort of collaboration is through the management of projects and ideas using productivity applications like Trello and Slack. Another useful tool for managing a hashtag is Tagboard as it allows you to search across different platforms.

Creativity

Video: There are many ways to create video beyond simply recording yourself. Maybe it is screencasting with Snagit, Screencastify or Camtasia. Another option is presentations and animations using Powtoon and Adobe Voice. An alternative to the usual medium is creating a GIF image or a Vine.

Visuals: As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Although I am not completely sure of that, there are many ways to at least marry both using technology. Maybe it is creating a more visual presentation with Prezi, capturing a moment with Instagram, creating an image with Canva or sketching with Paper53.

Blogging: In his book, Smarter Than You Think, Clive Thompson states that, “Just as we now live in public, so do we think in public. And that is accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge.” One medium which has made such public thinking possible is blogging. There are a range of platforms, including Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr and Medium. What is important to remember about blogging is that it does not just have to be ‘text’. There are so many different products that can be embedded, such as Padlets, Soundcloud, Storify and Youtube.

Spaces: In addition to blogs, there are many applications which allow you to create pages on the web. Some options include Glogstar, Google Sites, Weeby, Wix, Wikispaces, Adobe Slate and Smore. Each of these sites offers their own benefits, whether it be the visual nature of Glogstar or the simplicity of Adobe Slate.


Tim Kastelle suggests that, “If there is a gap between where you currently are and where you want to be, the only way to bridge it is by doing something new. Innovating.” Technology can help in bridging this gap, but as Kentora Toyama states, it only ever amplifies whatever capacity is already there. So, what change are you driving and what technology are you using to enable it?


For the backstory, the student code for the Verso provocation is: EE5YVK

The link to Padlet is: http://padlet.com/aarondavis/digital15


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Blurb for my session at Leading a Digital School Conference:

Often we talk about changing our classrooms, putting students at the centre, connecting with authentic audiences and flipping instruction. However, the first thing that often needs to change is the role of the educator. Instead of focusing on being a teacher, the focus needs to be on becoming a learner. From using social bookmarking to connect with a community to using a blog in order to share with the world, Aaron will explore the different possibilities and potentials for lifelong learning and why teachers need genius hour too.

Slides:

Ignite the learning in your classroom by leading the way from Aaron Davis

Notes:

When we talk about flipping the classroom, the focus is often in regards to instruction. However, something that also needs to be flipped is the role of the teacher. We need to move from being the sage on the stage to what Erica McWilliams calls “a meddler in the middle”. That is, “a re-positioning of teacher and student as co-directors and co-editors of their social world.” This re-positioning starts by re-focusing on learning. As David Culberhouse suggests, “The best fuel to feed the fires of our creative and innovative core is learning. New learning, learning that stretches us.” The question then is how might we create conditions which support teachers as leaders in the learning, not just of the learning.

In his recent book, From Master Teacher to Master Learner, Will Richardson provides nine different learning qualities: model, unlearner, co-learner, curator, open sharer, connector, maker, digitally literate and champion of diversity. Whatever qualities are shown, what matters most is that teachers are first and foremost learners. As he states, “The world has changed. Knowledge is everywhere. Teachers must become master learners instead of master knowers” The question though is what such learning might mean.

The role of learner can take on many guises. Sometimes it is co-creating the learning experience with students, other times it is simply learning something new and going through that process themselves. As George Couros wonders, “Can you imagine when a teacher gets really excited about their learning, the difference that makes on their students?” It always comes back to the learning.

In relation to co-creating, there are a range of models that can be used to support this process. The most obvious seems to be the many different iterations of the ‘Inquiry’ model, where students help guide their own learning. The reality is that inquiry means many different things to many different people. You just need to place some of the different models next to each other to see this. Another model of learning is Disciplined Collaboration. Developed by Alma Harris and Michelle Jones, it focuses on teachers working through a cycle of collaboration, innovation and reflection. Although not traditional co-creation, the focus on student, through data and evidence, rather than being dictated by the curriculum. Another model that empowers teachers as learners is the Modern Learning Canvas. Developed by Richard Olsen, it provides a collective space to talk learning and identify areas for change and innovation.

One of the problems with many inquiry based models is that they begin with a question and work towards a solution. However, as Peter Skillen argues, sometimes what is important is tinkering and engaging in playful learning. Chris Wejr shares how he provided time for his teachers to tinker and innovate, while John Spencer talks about having a personal genius hour to follow up passions outside of teaching.

A common model used to aid explorations beyond curriculum is Design Thinking. A process that focuses on immersion, definition, ideation, prototyping and testing. One of the things that makes it different to other inquiry models is the cyclic nature of the process. Although it focuses on an authentic end goal, as other forms of inquiry do, it incorporates an element of ongoing refinement that is sometimes lost within other processes. Tom Barrett sums this prototyping disposition as a case of perpetual beta, where, “Learning is all about continuous improvement with an emphasis on engineering as many opportunities for feedback as we can.”

In her adaptation of the Design Thinking model, Jackie Gerstein talks about the importance of not only understanding the learning process, but clearly articulating and demonstrating this. A part of this is celebrating the iterative process of learning. As she suggests, “the educator as a lead learner normalizes, embraces, models, and reinforces the iterative process of learning.” This involves a cycle of prototyping, testing, failing, tweaking.

Technology plays an important part within all of this. Whether it be developing a PLN, sharing ideas, finding inspiration, openly sharing the learning or making stuff worth stealing, much of this is enabled through the use of various tools and applications. Our task, as David Weinberger suggests, is to, “build networks that make us smarter”.

Some examples of my learning experiences include:

What is significant about each example of learning is the shared experience. Learning is never in isolation and it is so important to remember this. Also, if it is then we are at a time of interconnectedness when it is easy to gain feedback. 

So what about you? What learning have you been a part of that has stretched you? What qualities did you show? How did you go about it? What challenges did you face? How did you share it?

Link to collaborative resource


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