It’s About Acculturation

Monday morning. Just got back from Yokohama/Tokyo and the Beyond Laptops Conference put on my Kim Cofino and the great people at the Yokohama International School. I have a million things to do, but I know that if I don’t pin this blog post, right now, onto some kind of solid wall in Cyber Space, it will will melt back into the ether with a million other thought and ideas. I need to strike the hammer while…..end cliche.

Conferences are exhilarating. Conferences are exhausting. They are empowering and frustrating. They can make you feel invincible, while somehow soul crushing at the same time. Before I continue, let me state that this post is not a criticism of the conference or Kim. She did an amazing job trying to satisfy a diverse group of people and our needs. She continually reached out for support and ideas before, during and after the conference and was more than flexible through the two day event. I had a great time and I learned so much. Thank you to everyone at YIS and all the participants. But you all now me well enough to know that I have opinions, and since I was not in the mood to elaborate in the feedback survey, I wanted to share my thoughts in the form of this post. I want to end on a positive note so I will start with the griping.

Not sure if you have heard, but technology is not about the tool. It’s not about devices or software. It’s not about numbers or proof. It’s not about, well apparently it’s not about a lot of things. We are all very good at pontificating what it is not about! Yet somehow, even though it is not about the tool, and even though we create smaller, more intensive conferences for people who realize that it is not about the tool, to discuss what it is about…we end up talking about the tool. We talk about BYOD, iPads verse laptops, or PD models based on– yes,  you guessed it, how to use the tool. We are very good about talking about the tool, while saying that technology is not about the tool. Hence the frustration.

My second gripe was data driven. I am an English teacher. I hate numbers. I hate statistics. I hate quantifying the unquantifiable things in life, like poetry, like nature, like learning. After speaking with so many IT directors and school administrators, however, I can understand the need for numbers to justify budgets to school boards hungry for charts and graphs proving that the millions of dollars they spend on computers are amounting to something, but that is not where I want to spend my energy. My problem is that the only thing I hate more than numbers and charts are budgets and money. I got into teaching to inspire kids, to create authentic learning communities and to change the world. I want to go to conferences and talk about these types of things. I will leave the graphs and charts to other people.

These are my gripes and by no ways reflective of the mood or organization of the conference.  Anyone who has ever organized any kind of PD, workshop, or conference know that you can NEVER please everyone. The small-group, hands-on, conversational tone of the conference was refreshing. It felt great to be able to express my viewpoint with so many of the decision makers from the major schools in Asia. It was valuable to be reminded that assessment of a program either for evaluation or justification has value. It was equally important for me to be the voice of a more qualitative look at the role of technology in our schools.

Throughout the conference, I was approached by several people who said they appreciated my frank, open and holistic look at educational technology. I want to spend the rest of this post trying to articulate just what that looks like. If technology is not about the tools, if it is not about data, then what is it about? How do we know it is “working?”


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by superkimbo

We are immersed in a new culture. It is fluid, it is changing, it is evolving, it is breathing and dreaming and waiting for our input, and for the first time the we is all of us, the our is mine and yours. The involvement with, the creation of, the influence from, the participation in this culture is what concerns me. Acculturation is my focus. We are on a frontier. Pressed up against a fast moving edge to places we have never been before as a society. This understanding is what educational technology should be about: What does this culture look like? How does it affect each of us? How do we participate in it. Learn its language? Learn from it? Teach it? What happens to the me in we? What happens to you in the us? Where are we going? How did we get here? What does school look like in this new culture?

You want to see numbers right? How can we measure and quantify participation in a culture that is still forming? How do we know teachers and students are using technology to learn? Let’s start with the Horizon Report:

The NMC Horizon Project charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning, research, creative inquiry, and information management. Launched in 2002, it epitomizes the mission of the NMC to help educators and thought leaders across the world build upon the innovation happening at their institutions by providing them with expert research and analysis.

Much of the work of the NMC Horizon Project takes place in a wiki where international experts across all different educational sectors openly exchange ideas and engage in insightful discourse. In this sense, the NMC Horizon Project represents a new ideal in education: free, open forums that facilitate global collaboration and encourage smarter discovery and dissemination of emerging learning approaches. All NMC Horizon Project reports and papers are published as open content, under a Creative Commons Attribution License, so permission is granted to replicate, copy, distribute, transmit, or adapt the content freely.

Not a bad place to start right? We spend so much time discussing the things that technology is not (a tool) that we never really talk about what it is. There is a nebulous list of 21st century skills that everyone seems to be referencing, but even that term is becoming laden with the heavy baggage of jargon. “Arghh, can we stop saying 21st century skills, it is 2012 already!” is the new “It’s not about the tool.” So what are we doing here? What are we talking about? Back to the Horizon Report. You can read more about the NMC or download the report on their website. I want to distill the key points from A Communique from the Horizon Report Retreat, January 2012. (One of many great resources from the Beyond Laptop reading list.) I have taken the already brief points and carved them down to a few free-standing words:

  • Global  
  • Collaborative
  • Diverse
  • Mobile
  • Access, Efficiency, and Scale
  • Redefining Literacy
  • Information Everywhere
  • Openness
  • Ownership and Privacy
  • Change

This is what our new culture looks like. This is what we need to prepare ourselves, our students, our teachers and parents, for. The question stops being about iPads or PCs, and becomes– Is your school a global, collaborative, diverse, mobile environment with access to people and information? Are you helping to redefine literacy, showing your stakeholders how and when to access information that is everywhere? Are you showing them what to do with it, once they find it, in an open community of learners who understand  the power of ownership and privacy? Most importantly is your institution not only ready for change but seeking it? Are you on the edge of your seat with your nose pressed up against the moving frontier or are you running to catch up, weighed down by stacks of charts and graphs justifying giving students and teachers access to a tool that is so unimportant that it doesn’t even warrant mention? Too simple? Perhaps, but if I could work at a school that understands these concepts and is working toward creating an ethos that values them, I would be a happy camper.

You want to know if your 1:1 program is working? Forget about in-house surveys and data, take a look at the ethos of your school, it’s online presence, its openness and connectivity?  Take a look at the list above, how many of those concepts are you actively promoting and preparing for? Are they part of your vision statement? How much of your professional development is skills-based training and how much of it is cultural understanding? Are these ideas disrupting your school in a good way? Are you embracing them? Are you redesigning existing traditions like reports, timetables and content management to make room for them?

My suggestions for the next Beyond Laptops is that we focus on this new culture. Sorry, Kim. I know this is too little too late, but I had to go through the conference to realize want I needed from it. How do we create schools that are relevant in the age we live in and beyond? How do we teach the Web Kids? How are we all participating in this new culture?

 

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47 thoughts on “It’s About Acculturation

  1. avatarKim Cofino
    Twitter: mscofino

    It’s not too late. I think we all had to go through the experience to see what would come next. I’m not sure we could have jumped straight into this idea of a new culture for this year’s event anyway. It was a really big group of people to have just sit around and talk for two days. Now that we know who we are and what we’re about, we can come back together again (in a smaller group) and move on to this next level.

    Even though we hosted something similar last year, I didn’t know how this would turn out. I didn’t know what people would want, and where they would be coming from, and I most definitely didn’t know how people would interact with each other. Sometimes it’s hard to cope with competing agendas (and competition in general). Now that I know the people who would most likely want to be involved again next year, I can address these issues.

    Finally, I do think there were very definite and intentional times in each day where I was trying to direct us to this conversation – watching Everything is a Remix, Press Pause Play, and the PBS Off Book Arts were all intended to get us thinking along these lines. But sometimes you have to move through different levels of conversation and thinking – even if it would be nicer to just skip ahead. Just like with our students.

    Reply
    1. avatarJabiz Post author

      As soon as I hit publish, I wondered if I came across as too negative. I was reading over the agenda from the event itself and found that it was an exceptionally planned and diverse event. So please know that.

      Obviously we all come from our own interests, and my interests are the ones I mentioned, but I could understand that for many people (administrators in particular) it was about other paths. I agree that this is a growing event, and although I wasn’t there last year, I can see where it is going? I look forward to being involved in future conversations.

      I totally got what you were doing with the links to culture, the ones that you did share, I just wished other people would have sunk their teeth into it more, rather than just thinking they were add-ons.

      “Sometimes you have to move through different levels of conversation and thinking – even if it would be nicer to just skip ahead. Just like with our students.”

      I just wonder if our end goals are clear enough to ensure that we all get to where we want to end up. Sometimes it just feels like we are not moving forward, but I know that we are. We have to be right?

      Reply
      1. avatarKim Cofino
        Twitter: mscofino

        I don’t think your post is negative, but it’s not really a review of #beyondlaptops – especially since both of the things you mentioned were side-track conversations that were not part of the planned discussion. Unfortunately, I think you’re never going to get to a place where people aren’t going to want to talk about data and it’s going to be a while before people stop hijacking conversations to make them about tools (and of course neither of those things were on the agenda anywhere).

        In the end, I think many of the participants had similar goals, and the purpose of limiting the invitations is to get more like-minded people in the room to move a bit faster than you can in a large group, but still not everyone will be in the same head-space all the time, no matter how small the group.

        So, I’ve gotten lots of great ideas for where to go next based on the feedback survey and what I’ve heard from individual participants. Will your two gripes never come up again? Not sure I can guarantee that, but I definitely think we can move more toward the idea of a new culture of learning next year.

        Reply
  2. avatarWill Kirkwood
    Twitter: wkirkwood

    I think you have been articulate much of what is going through my head. I also loved the opportunity to sit down and talk with so many great educators from throughout Asia but I somehow feel as if I missed an opportunity.

    This is in no way a slight at the conference itself, like you said the format was “refreshing”. Who doesn’t like sitting down with so many like minded people? It is amazing that someone is willing to challenge what we think a conference should be. I wish I had such foresight and passion. With the benefit of hindsight I realise that I could have made so much more of the experience for myself – to really get to those bigger issues.

    I really feel that we are at the point where a group of people need to “lock themselves” in room and “nut out” these issues. The thinking needs to be taken “beyond the laptop” and onto what is means to be a learner in this new age and how as educators we can help move the education system towards this new reality.

    Thank you Kim for organizing the experience that was able to get me to this new level of thought and thanks Jabiz for helping me to articulate where my head was actually at. It is dawning on me that maybe I have had a big take away from the conference after all – I have been able to clarify where I need to head.

    Reply
    1. avatarHeather Dowd
      Twitter: heza

      Will, what opportunity do you feel you missed? And how do you think you could have gotten to those bigger issues? Just curious….need clarification.

      Reply
      1. avatarWill Kirkwood
        Twitter: wkirkwood

        I just feel that we had the opportunity to aim big and to start shifting some building blocks around. From the discussions that have been highlighted in this thread I can see many others feel the same way, which sort of empowers me and frustrates me even more.

        We have all talked a big talk about where things should be heading, we have all started down the path, but it seems we all realise that what we are doing isn’t working the way we want. So I was hoping we could simply lay out our ideas on the table, let a group of knowledgeable and respected colleagues critique them and then work together to develop a working plan of how to shift educational practice.

        There are so many great beginnings to this discussion out there be it NETs, Common Sense Media curriculum, etc but these are just the beginnings of the discussion we need to get beyond simply looking at how these can integrate into what we do, but instead focus on how these ideas/principles can shift what we do (something transformative).

        I am certain we all have ideas on how this could be done and in hindsight I wish we had gotten to these issues.

        We are all believes in this new culture, it is just we don’t know how to make it go mainstream in schools.

        Reply
  3. avatarTS Bray
    Twitter: tsbray

    Jabiz (and through you, Kim),

    I think you found the rabbit hole, brother. Many times during many discussions, I felt many of us were thinking and feeling the same frustration. (And yes, this is not a knock on Kim or YIS.) We need to move beyond (hahahaha) all these discussions of tools and what tech is or isn’t and move to something John was talking about — what is the vision? The vision should be based on what we what our schools to be and how and what we want our students to learn. When we nail the vision, we will have the Holy Grail (If there truly is a Grail to be had). I said it more than once during the two days — there is NO MAGIC PILL! If there is a magic pill, it is learning itself — nothing more and nothing less. Let us not discuss technology anymore, unless it is to explain what our ideal school looks like or what our ideal learners can/will do. Let us talk of learning; what it looks like, how it feels, what it does and leave the rest. I agree with Kim, sometimes you have to have the first conversation in order to get to the real conversation. Let us look at #beyondlaptops as the beginning of a discussion that we are now actually ready to have as a community.

    Reply
  4. avatarHeather Dowd
    Twitter: heza

    I got involved in the ed tech world in 2007 and went to my first conference in 2008. It was exciting and eye opening, but even then I felt something was missing. There wasn’t enough discussion about curriculum at the conference. It was about all these new web 2.0 tools. So the next year, I presented a session on using web 2.0 tools in science class. The focus was still on the tools, but the room was packed and it wasn’t because of me. Teachers were hungry to see how all the tools could apply to their classrooms. Looking at the ISTE sessions this year, I feel as if we have moved forward from 2008, but we do have a ways to go. The nice thing about #beyondlaptops is that we can go beyond the typical conversations which I think we did pretty successfully despite the times that tools and data dominated the discussion. Maybe we can spend more time this next year as a smaller Singapore cohort discussing culture and how we can help teachers move into this new culture???

    Reply
    1. avatarTS Bray
      Twitter: tsbray

      Heather,
      Recently I was helping with a focus group at Korea University and that was what the professors wanted to see — how are other professors using tools to actually teach content? They didn’t want vague discussions on theory or tools, they wanted tangible examples.
      Tim

      Reply
  5. avatarWmChamberlain
    Twitter: wmchamberlain

    It is frustrating to see where education needs to move towards while at the same time understanding that the pedantic nature of school makes the move difficult (if not impossible). The disconnect between “us and them” comes because we have defined what education should be in a completely different way than what it has become and what it continues to be pushed towards.

    At some point we may have to realize that the inertia is too great. We may not be able to force a shift. What if the privatization of schools is the best opportunity to disrupt the inertia and move schools toward our vision? What else would be disruptive enough to make the shift?

    Reply
    1. avatarJabiz Post author

      Hey Will,

      Total buzz kill, because guess what? We all work in private schools and we are still confused and mired in the inertia.

      “What else would be disruptive enough to make the shift?” This is the question we have been asking for years now I think some schools just need to take some risks and move beyond their comfort zones. We need some examples. I think SLA is doing some great things, but we need more examples closer to where we are, so tat we can compare and learn from.

      And if we cannot shift, entire schools, we need to highlight the work that we do in our classrooms that helps us get closer to understanding this new connected culture.

      Reply
      1. avatarWill Kirkwood
        Twitter: wkirkwood

        I can hear the rumble out there. People are getting ideas of how to make the big shift. We all agree it is not about machines or software. We have known for a long time that changing teaching and learning practice is the key. But how can we bring this shift to our own communities?

        I like the idea of a small group of passionate educators and decisions makers really analyzing what good practices looks like, thinking about how to incorporate big ideas effectively into our curriculum (instead of just being a side note) and toying with ideas of how to make all this a reality.

        Jabiz it seems like many of us have been able to use our experience in Yokohama as “call to arms”. Now let’s see where it goes. I for one would love to be part of the discussions/debates/arguments that I can see on the horizon.

        Reply
  6. avatarStacy Stephens
    Twitter: curriculumstace

    Jabiz et al..

    I think your points and the conversation you are generating is vital, but also part of the process of acculturation. Group-building, establishing cultural norms etc. is a process and if this is indeed a group (however fluid it may be), part of the discussion you want to see and be a part of is about getting the group there, we don’t always start there. I see our discussion both here and at Beyond Laptops as critical to deepening the conversation. I see the “tools” point, but I also felt at many times people were really trying to reach beyond that, successfully or unsuccessfully, I think that was the goal if not the outcome. I think we all as educators involved in educational technology struggle with meeting the needs of people in a variety of places and this can easily come to the forefront. And I think we (I) struggle as well to just wrap our heads around how all of the different pieces of cultural shift fit together, not to mention how we help others manage this when we are trying to figure it out for ourselves. It is not really about the why or the what, but rather about the how, which for me is far more challenging.

    All of that said, I so appreciate the time of the conference to push my thinking and the ability to continue the conversation long after it ends!

    Reply
  7. avatarJabiz Post author

    Glad to see you all here and participating in this chat, but before we go any further, let me restate what I was saying in my post in simpler terms. Maybe it was too complicated. I just think that we need to define, maybe per school, maybe regionally–what we want from technology.

    Before we worry about devices and stats and data, what do we want to do in terms of curriculum and pedagogy? What do we want our students, teachers and parents to be able to do? Who do we want them to be?

    My answer is that we want to be able to function in this world:

    Global
    Collaborative
    Diverse
    Mobile
    Access, Efficiency, and Scale
    Redefining Literacy
    Information Everywhere
    Openness
    Ownership and Privacy
    Change

    Everything else should stem from this list! We can add or subtract a few things, we can tweak it as necessary, but it feels like a good place to start. Once we can agree on these things, we can look at which skills or tools we need. We can look at PD and hiring. We can look at programs and curriculum. We can look at structure, infrastructure, timetables and everything else….

    The first question is, “How do we operate in this new culture?” Several of you mentioned that talk of culture comes later, I am arguing that perhaps it should come first.

    Perhaps we are suffering from a case of culture shock. We know that this new world is different from what we know, but rather than acculturate we are trying to stick with what we know.

    I like what Will suggested, perhaps we need to form a task force and create some material or materials that outline and help Asian educators understand the changes that are here. A sort if handbook for this new culture. We can all use these materials as a starting point to where we want to go.

    I know we have knocked the idea of an Asia unplugged, but it is looking more like a necessity, than a luxury. Who’s in?

    Reply
    1. avatarHolly
      Twitter: hhoskins

      I think you are onto something when you say we are suffering from a case of culture shock. I think in a way we are. We know from living overseas all about culture shock and there are distinct phases you go through when adjusting to a new culture. Those phases may have different names depending on who you talk to, but I had a principal that always went over them with new teachers in order to prepare them for the emotional roller-coaster they had chosen to ride. The phases she used were excitement, frustration, withdrawal, acceptance, enthusiasm. Sound familiar to anyone? Where are you?
      One of the most interesting sessions of #beyondlaptops for me was when we split up into groups depending on the age of our laptop program. I wasn’t in the other groups so have no real basis for comparison but I imagine the different groups had similar experiences and felt they were in a similar phase of culture shock.
      One thing about culture shock, you can’t bypass it. It just has to run its course. But if you recognize it you suffer far less frustration. (While the shift of education is not exactly the same, we are not entering a country with a thoroughly developed culture like we are when we choose to live overseas, I think the theory still applies.) That is not to say that we can’t do anything about it. We have to do something about it because the culture we are adjusting to doesn’t really exist yet. We are creating it. And these conversations are vital to the development of it.
      I agree with Will that the inertia guiding education is not exactly going in a direction we are thrilled about, and the inertia is strong, but I think the shift has already begun, and just like culture shock, it has to run its course. Let’s just make sure there is a desirable destination for it to reach. Jabiz has a great list to start with…

      Reply
      1. avatarJabiz Post author

        I am thinking of writing a Lonely Planet culture guide to tech and education. Complete with short films and other useful resources. What does this new culture look like? How can your school ;earn to fit in? What do you need to know? What must you learn to do? Etc….Great extension of the analogy. Thanks

        Reply
    2. avatarAdrienne
      Twitter: amichetti

      You don’ t need a task force or a handbook to come from #beyondlaptops or Asia! We have all the resources we need. They are at our fingertips and at smiling at you when you walk into school in the mornings. YOU NEED A TASK FORCE IN YOUR SCHOOL. BE the freaking task force. Just do it, Jabiz. If you feel need something tangible to record it, make a movie or write a book about all you’ve learned after you finally stepped up to the plate and did the hard work. The doing is the thing, not the planning.

      Reply
      1. avatarJabiz Post author

        Just for the record. I am the task force in my school. I am doing it. I was just looking for some help. I am at the plate and swinging and doing the hard work. I am just tried of feeling isolated and alone as a school. I have a great team. We work well together, but would be nice to have others to work with and talk to.

        “We have all the resources we need. ” sure but they are often scattered and redundant.

        “The doing is the thing, not the planning.” Sure this was an invitation for you all to help us do! Together.

        Reply
        1. avatarAdrienne
          Twitter: amichetti

          What kind of help do you want/need? Really. I mean it. Be specific. Name it. List it.

          And yes, the resources are scattered. So gather them up to use with your team. And weed out the redundant ones, because th0se RUP drafts that work great with AP students at another school won’t work in an IB school of 80% EAL students.

          Reply
          1. avatarJabiz Post author

            Will think on this and get back to you. I was hoping to create this list as a group, but I will try to kick it off. What would be useful shared resources in moving our schools as a region closer to institutions that embrace these ideas:

            Global
            Collaborative
            Diverse
            Mobile
            Access, Efficiency, and Scale
            Redefining Literacy
            Information Everywhere
            Openness
            Ownership and Privacy
            Change

            For example we created a great document at #beyondlaptops about expectations of admin, teachers etc… on the last day. Now what happens to that? My hope is that we cab create more docs like that, have a shared space where they exist, and hopefully create resources based on them that fit the needs of our schools.

            I understand that it exists in the web and that I can access it at anytime, but perhaps I am looking for some structure. Some type A personalities to help me give shape to the work I am doing. I sense I am not alone in this. Or maybe I am way off base.

      2. avatarJane Ross
        Twitter: janeinjava

        Hey Adrienne,
        I didn’t attend ‘Beyond Laptops’ but was only able to see it via Twitter :)
        I totally agree with your statement. Become the change that you want to see. I have always strived to do just that – make it happen. But to make things happen individually is only a starting point. Getting an institution to move on things is really hard and it’s so easy to give in and just do stuff yourself. Why – because institutions want proof that it will work and fit with their vision.

        For me it’s not about the technology. In my world that has almost become invisible. I never think – oh I will use my iPhone to capture this – or let’s use Pages record this – we just do it in what ever way is convenient in the moment. For me it’s about being authentic and stretching my own horizons and those of my students. That looks different for each person and it’s using those tech tools that makes this differentiation possible.

        Reply
        1. avatarGary Stager
          Twitter: garystager

          Jabiz,

          You list a bunch of affective goals. Where is the new intellectual diet for children? Which curricular topics will be discarded? Which ones added?

          We can’t just keep focusing on pedagogical tricks and expect what Papert calls, “megachange.”

          Reply
  8. avatarBrady Cline
    Twitter: becline

    Jabiz,

    It’s vital to have people such as yourself who write with candor rather than recycling the same old pablum. I don’t always agree, and I know it rubs some people the wrong way, but we certainly won’t be able to move ‘#beyondlaptops’ with groupthink.

    Clearly, different people had different expectations and goals for #beyondlaptops. I overheard one person say that they had assumed it would be about new types of hardware. That said, I think that most people had a common understanding of who was gathered there: people who already understood and agreed upon the basics; people who didn’t have to have those same conversations about “21st Century Learning” as if it was a new idea.

    I really do think we are all in basic agreement more than you recognize, so I think the tension that you (and most of us) felt, is a tension within ourselves. The frustration of knowing our first principles but not having a clear understanding of how to best express them. You’ve latched onto acculturation as a construct to build your own understanding. I personally think that is very powerful, but others may prefer another.

    Will’s question (which he and I have been asking each other a lot) is how to begin to actually articulate this vision: If acculturation is your theory, then what does it actually look like for people who are stewards of that vision? Is there a particular collaboration model that facilitates this best? What core tech standards, if any, should be taught and documented? I think these are the sorts of questions that #beyondlaptops has brought to the surface for me and now it’s time to start answering them within our own school communities.

    Reply
    1. avatarJabiz Post author

      Some great points Brady! I agree that there are a group of us, here in Asia for sure that keep spinning in circles. We are ready for the next step, even if our schools are not. I have latched onto acculturation as a construct, in this you are right, but I guess the question is, what are other people using to build meaning for themselves. I am trying to keep it simple.

      Maybe once we have a few constructs to build and build understanding, we can move on to actually articulating our vision. We can get to these questions: “what does it actually look like for people who are stewards of that vision? Is there a particular collaboration model that facilitates this best? What core tech standards, if any, should be taught and documented? ”

      I think Kim is right, maybe we needed this 2nd incarnation of #beyondlaptops, but hopefully for the next go round, we can begin to build active tasks forces that stop talking and start building.

      Maybe we can even begin online, tightened up in Beijing and meet as necessary. Enough is enough. Let’s build something important.

      Reply
  9. avatarDana Watts
    Twitter: teachwatts

    I worry that the discussion about tools was partially due to AES’s decision to move to iPads (which always raises a few eyebrows), but we are moving forward with iPads because it is transforming the way our teachers and students interact with a tool and connect it to their learning in a new way. I believe that is beyond laptops because we are looking for something that doesn’t do what a laptop can do. But enough about iPads.

    Here’s where the problem lies, we are drawn together, via online or face to face conversations because we are creative people searching for ways to reform education to better meet the needs of our students. We all know that these ways exist; yet, we are unsure how to implement them within our schools. Perhaps if our end goal was to create something substantive and tangible, we would all have that sense of satisfaction when we walked away from the minds we so enjoy collaborating with intellectually. We are on the cusp of getting what we want, we just need to stop talking about it and create it.

    Reply
  10. avatarJohn Iglar
    Twitter: j_iglar

    It has been delightful for this guy in Africa to follow the discussions between you Asia folks, first on Twitter and then here. Our school is just moving TO laptops and we are having some of the discussions you all have had about what comes beyond.

    I have to say that from the discussions I overheard, this meeting sounded more like a think tank than the usual conference. Kudos to Kim for organizing it this way and bravo to all of you who took on the Big Picture ideas …and are continuing that.

    Jabiz, I completely understand where you’re coming from and agree with you. Way way too often when educators (techies and content-masters alike) get together to talk about EdTech the conversation goes into devices and software and suchlike. Dana, it’s really a necessary part of the talk even if some of us rail against it. Much as we like to think that we can put the tools aside and focus solely on the pedagogy, the reality is the tool is there. (I’ve been in this biz so long that I have put aside the idea that the tool will fade away – like the pencil – and we can focus only on the content. This tool is changing the content.)

    BUT, I have to point out that from a distance at least you folks have done some fantastic work on shoving that aspect to the corner. Instead of lots of tweets about 57 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom or 23 Tips to Jazz up Your Prezis, you folks were chatting and sharing about Stuff That Matters. Motivation. The Whole Child. Self-Direction. Creativity. Passion.

    Keep that conversation up. Even if it was only 40% (?) of the conversation at BL2012, maybe it’ll be 70% in 2013. That’s not a bad thing.

    I for one would love to join in. (Want an African intruder?)

    Reply
  11. avatarBrian Lockwood

    It’s just a hunch but I think the reason the “technology as a Tool issue” always seems to come to the fore front is it keeps on changing. Pencils an old invention has matured at such a level that when we talk learning, this technology is never discussed.

    I think as long as technology keeps changing, we all will continue to deal with keywords of “technology” being in the middle of the conversation instead of learning.

    Reply
  12. avatarJohn Turner
    Twitter: jturner56

    Jabiz, Kim et al

    What a great discussion. Must be a sign that #beyondlaptops hit some points worthy of continuing discussion. A compatriot sent this blog me way, evidence of need for human as well as digital interaction. Also reinforces the power of social media, be it Twitter, blogs or whatever, to extend thinking.

    I’ll just make two quick points:

    Firstly, I hope that future discussions don’t fall for the three card trick of only looking to include those of like-mind. EdTech has suffered too long from this limitation. A good coming together needs to broaden thinking through understanding difference. Gary Stager is a good example, have argued with him more times than not but its always been a worthwhile learning experience with the door left open.

    Secondly, agree with Jabez that until we move beyond the tech as tool focus we remain shackled. To this end what I got from the conference was the need to ensure our Digital Learning Infusion vision (available at http://ltt.cdnis.edu.hk and which I presented to the whole staff yesterday and have had three follow-up constructive discussions this morning) needs to fit in constructively with the school’s vision of learning. I kn ow, a bit cart before the horse; but their is a vision and we need to understanding the relationships better. This I see as the next bridge.

    Lots to do and as always appreciate the sharing of views. Liked your insights at #beyondlaptops into the learning flow of your classrooms Jabez. All the best

    Reply
  13. avatarTim Wojcik
    Twitter: timwojcik

    Jabiz et al,
    Thanks for the continuing the conversation. It is becoming (excitingly) apparent that we are primed to gain more from distance than close proximity, as we reflect from within our familiar environments. Loving where this is headed.

    By and large, I agree with the sentiments above. But one area of concern for me is how we classify and define the guideposts we are seeking to teach. I seek to clarify how we will engage with (non ‘ed tech’ specialist) colleagues (and in turn, parents/students) about this shift/evolution.

    I align with the topics/practices list that Jabiz references for focusing our efforts—but to use them as frameworks for learning experiences, and not as ‘givens’ that devolve into an assumption of “what we are supposed to do” best practices. If we implement the foundations effectively, we will build learning experiences that enable students to understand the world around them from various angles. The goal should be a focus towards true literacy, rather than wholesale adoption of what we like to do (or what we think might suit everyone). In a sense, it is about a form of differentiation. For example, some may choose to share openly, others locally, others not at all. It should be up to students to decide, and not for us to dictate what is right. And the rationales for what to do/when/how are compelling grounds for discussion.

    It is a given that students live in a collaborative society of sharing. But openness is another question. We are in international schools with unique cultures/laws/administrations — which should be grounds for dialogue, not exclusion. It means something very different to share openly in China than it does in Japan or Tunisia or the US. Why does a government — or principal — restrict us from sharing? What are the benefits/limitations of sharing, and so on… As leaders and advocates of a new paradigm, we will frame the conversation. And the emphasis must be on building learning experiences to understand/access/challenge/experiment in the modern environment of online collaboration—not endorse any practice as a universal truth.

    Reply
  14. Pingback: It’s a vision thing « Light Offerings

  15. avatarAdrienne
    Twitter: amichetti

    Alright. I’m going to pushback on the Push Back.

    Jabiz, I’m starting to wonder if you and I were at the same conference. And Will, too, for that matter. Missed opportunity? IMO, if you feel there was a missed opportunity it’s simply because you’re not sure how to bring back all those action plans you have in your mind to your own school and make the shifts there.

    I was not involved in a single discussion about tools. Perhaps I got lucky, but I largely felt like NOT talking about the tools was a big part of this conference. Not sure how you all got caught up in that, but my question is this: in a conference where YOU are the conference, why didn’t you change the direction of the conversation? Nothing was stopping you. There was your missed opportunity!

    As for budgets, money, etc.: Jabiz, you need to get your head out of the clouds a bit (says the dreamer herself!). The reality is we work in organizations that expect outcomes. I know you sometimes forget this. I’d love to see you do a big research project with data analysis or similar for you to understand and appreciate the value of that data. That data will bring more questions and guide you to make shifts. YES we can make those expected outcomes qualitative and not quantitative, but the reality is we need to backwards plan (just like you would in your classroom) and ask: What is it we are trying to achieve?

    What will that look like? Your list is a great place to start — so why didn’t you bring this up? I think it’s a bit unfair to frame this as a laundry list of “Things I’m Upset We Didn’t Talk About at #beyondlaptops” rather than “Things I Didn’t Realize I Wanted to Talk About at #beyondlaptops But Upon Further Reflection, Realize I Do,” which is what I think you’re really getting at here. Our conversations were not dictated. You could have easily changed their direction. And yes, we did talk about how to measure the value of a 1:1 initiative. This is our reality, and I suspect it’s yours too.

    Lastly, I want to emphasize the point I made in my opening — Will, I guess this is more for you, seeing as you felt you missed out on “an opportunity to aim big and to start shifting some building blocks around.” To ask bluntly: what’s stopping you? From your comments here it sounds like you want to map something together with the participants of #beyondlaptops and start hammering out action plans. But here’s the thing: those logistics won’t look the same for my school as they will for yours. They never will, and (particularly in the spirit of MYP) they never should!

    We have all talked a big talk about where things should be heading, we have all started down the path, but it seems we all realise that what we are doing isn’t working the way we want. So I was hoping we could simply lay out our ideas on the table, let a group of knowledgeable and respected colleagues critique them and then work together to develop a working plan of how to shift educational practice.

    I feel like this is exactly what we did at the conference, and I’m very sad to hear you feel we didn’t approach this. However, that last bit, the working together to develop a working plan of how to shift educational practice — that bit starts with you, in your school, in your collaborative teams. Or, if you prefer to start super fresh, in a teachers college program (as a professor/instructor) where you prepare new teachers to go out into the new shifted digital world of learning. That transformative shift you’re looking for starts with you in your school — not at a conference, however informal.

    I absolutely agree with Brady when he says we are all in basic agreement more than you recognize, and that the frustration is a tension. I would argue that tension is partly fear because we now know that we just need to SUCK IT UP AND DO IT. After an experience like #beyondlaptops, it’s time to stop talking and start DOING. And that is where the hard effing work comes in — harder than all the other fluff we’ve been whining about, let’s face it. It’s hard because we work in schools, real schools — not the ideal ones where every teacher is on Diigo and has an iPhone and a blog and blahblahblahprojectbasedlearningblahblahblah. No, we’re in real schools where there are budgets, physical network limitations, firewalls, parents who don’t want their kids on Facebook, and teachers who have never assessed using criteria in their 30+ year career. This is our reality. To make change in this reality is hard work and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do it.

    I don’t think it’s *all* about acculturation. That is one part of it. Acculturation is what propelled me to go down this path in the first place. Dissonance made me uncomfortable, pushed me to inquire more. So I did. I did lots of things to ease that dissonance, including a Master’s degree so I could DO EVEN MORE. And now, I’m back in international schools and I’m reading posts like this and wondering, why are we so afraid to act?

    As for Will’s question and Brady’s elaboration:

    … how to begin to actually articulate this vision: If acculturation is your theory, then what does it actually look like for people who are stewards of that vision? Is there a particular collaboration model that facilitates this best? What core tech standards, if any, should be taught and documented? I think these are the sorts of questions that #beyondlaptops has brought to the surface for me and now it’s time to start answering them within our own school communities.

    Brady is right on the money. It’s time to start answering these within our own school communities. There is no single answer. There is no magic pill. There is no best. This is not absolute. And, I daresay you will find many challenges ahead of you when you move to a new school with a very different vision, ethos, tradition, size, and student body than the one you are in now. The answers will be completely different, and they SHOULD BE.

    I for one am looking forward to doing some of the hard work within the school I am in. Let’s get to it and keep talking about it — because those conversations are valuable, but they are not what is going to change the future of education. Our action will change the future of education. Inertia will kill it.

    Reply
  16. avatarKeri-Lee Beasley
    Twitter: klbeasley

    Sadly, I was not able to attend the Beyond Laptops conference (except if you count living vicariously through the #beyondlaptops hashtag!), but I have finally (after much prodding from Jabiz!) decided to join the conversation.

    Jabiz, it would be easy for me to talk about your list of important characteristics of the future of education (love ’em all!), your heartfelt optimism and passion for what you do, or your crazy ability to get a band of educators together to inspire exciting things. I am a definite fan in the cult of #Jabizus!

    I’m going to talk about something quite different now, and I’ll be honest, I’m nervous about doing so. I have a pretty thin skin, so commenting on a post of yours, where there are hundreds of commenters who are smart, educated people willing to push, is always a little daunting.

    I’m going to talk about the manner in which your post was written. There were a couple of things I read that gave me pause…

    The first:

    “Before I continue, let me state that this post is not a criticism of the conference or Kim.”

    To me, that is the equivalent of saying, “Don’t take this the wrong way but…” or “I’m not saying this to hurt your feelings, but…”

    Everyone reading your post was aware then that you were unsatisfied with some aspect of the conference. I know you and Kim a great friends, but if I were Kim, by the time I got to that sentence, I’d be thinking, “Oh great, here we go, what’s he going to say now?”

    Which brings me to point two:

    “…since I was not in the mood to elaborate in the feedback survey, I wanted to share my thoughts in the form of this post…”

    Uh… What? You were “not in the mood to elaborate in the feedback survey?” Jabiz, if I had devoted a huge amount of time to organizing and preparing a conference, and had taken the time to create a feedback survey AND had given something in the vicinity of 30 minutes to allow people to complete the survey without rushing, I would be a little miffed to learn someone couldn’t really be bothered sharing their thoughts and obvious dissatisfactions in a more private forum, but would rather publicly share their feelings in a blog post about it!

    I’m not saying at all you don’t have the right to share your thoughts on your own blog, but I am saying that I am a little saddened that you chose to elaborate in your own very public forum, without taking the time to give detailed feedback at the conference itself.

    With our students at UWCSEA, we are encouraged by the Head of College to give public praise and private criticism. I know that tension and dissonance are all part of growth, but personally, I prefer to state publicly the things I feel went well about a conference, and my hopes for future conferences, while sharing my dissatisfactions in a feedback form which is not going to be public for all.

    I am clearly taking a risk here, because I can see how a person might see my comment as a contradiction in terms. I’ll let you be the judge of that…

    A wise man once said, “Just because the web is in real time, doesn’t mean our reactions to it need to be. Resist immediacy for thoughtfulness, empathy & depth.”

    I just wish that wise man had followed his own advice a bit more here..

    Reply
  17. avatarRebekah Madrid
    Twitter: ndbekah

    I have to say, I’ve been struggling with how to respond or even if I should respond. I feel too close to the event to be impartial and perhaps too tired to be coherent. The damning by faint praise of the conference irked me, but I kind of thought it would stop bugging me as the week went on, but that didn’t happen. I found myself nodding rather vigorously when I was reading Keri-Lee’s and Adrienne’s posts. I won’t add much to that, but I did want you to know that I agree with so many of their points that it was like the read my mind. So I find myself jumping in and I just hope by doing so it doesn’t feel like I’m piling on.

    My one thing I will add, is that no conference can bring about a culture shift. And a shift won’t happen by forming a small task force who then comes down from the conference room holding a guidebook for where school culture should go. I am a big believer that we invite everyone to the table. Make the discussion BIG. Vary the conversation. Try different arguments. The idea of a small task-force who decides what is best for an individual school or the entire educational system scares me. We (whatever tribe the #beyondlaptops crowd belongs too) are not the only stakeholders in the education of children and are not the only ones who are passionate about ensuring that schools are a place where students are educated/inspired/motivated. But other people (parents/admin/other teachers/etc) may not have the same vocabulary as we do. So we will have to repeat ourselves, a lot. And we will have to defend our beliefs, a lot. And we will have to be accepting of their ideas and their needs. And we have to accept that we may have to do things we don’t like, because that is what we do in communities. We have decide what battles are worth it and what ones we must let go. And when we’re tired of doing those all those things, we suck it up and do it again. Because that’s how change happens.

    The change will happen. It’s happening. I find it fascinating that the cliche “praise local, criticize global” doesn’t really apply anymore because you’re in Jakarta and we’re in Japan and the other commenters are all over the world and it still feels very local. You’ve helped bring about that change and you will help bringing about others. And that can only be a good thing.

    R

    Reply
  18. avatarJabiz Post author

    It’s hard to know where to start. I have been very emotional since the “push back comments” started rolling in last night, but I keep reminding myself not to take it personaly and remember that we are all friends, we are all on the same team, and that this is what a healthy community should look like. We should be able to criticize and push and pull at ideas without the fear that we will offend each other. I want to start by thanking you for keeping this a healthy community. And for taking the time, thin-skinned or not, to leave such thoughtful comments. I know it takes a lot of energy to engage in something like this and I love you all for taking that time and exerting that energy.

    Things often get lost and muddled by the 30th comment in a blog post, so I want to try and clearly articulate three things in this comment:

    Mea Culpa- Things that were said that I agree with. Mistakes I made. Apologies!
    Times I felt misunderstood, that I would like to reiterate and clarify
    Lessons learned

    I hope that my using this format, we can focus on what is important, and move forward to the next step, and not get confused by the need to argue specific points back and forth. I am not here to win a argument, but I would like to be understood.

    Step one- Mea Culpa- Things that were said that I agree with. Mistakes I made. Apologies!

    Keri Lee said, “The manner in which your post was written. “Before I continue, let me state that this post is not a criticism of the conference or Kim.” To me, that is the equivalent of saying, “Don’t take this the wrong way but…” or “I’m not saying this to hurt your feelings, but…”…by the time I got to that sentence, I’d be thinking, “Oh great, here we go, what’s he going to say now?”

    Rebbekah, “The damning by faint praise of the conference irked me.”

    Adrienne, “I think it’s a bit unfair to frame this as a laundry list of “Things I’m Upset We Didn’t Talk About at #beyondlaptops” rather than “Things I Didn’t Realize I Wanted to Talk About at #beyondlaptops But Upon Further Reflection, Realize I Do,” which is what I think you’re really getting at here.

    You are all absolutely right! I framed my “review of the conference” poorly. There is an inherit negativity that permeates the post. It was not intentional, but I should have seen it and thought about how it would affect the organizers and participants, Kim specifically. Kim and I go way back. She is my friend, my mentor, and a hero of sorts. I now understand that public criticism of an event is not fair to the people who were involved in organizing it.It is much easier to criticize than to create. I am sorry. I had every opportunity to shape the conference itself, before, during and after and I did not. It was unfair to then air my grievances and frustrations publicly. I am sorry.

    Adrienne nailed it when she said, I should have been more clear and explicit in framing my ideas like this: “Things I Didn’t Realize I Wanted to Talk About at #beyondlaptops But Upon Further Reflection, Realize I Do.” That is where my post was coming from in intent. I see that is not what was published. I am sorry.

    Adrienne said, “It’s simply because you’re not sure how to bring back all those action plans you have in your mind to your own school and make the shifts there.”

    My post was born of frustration. This was my first year as an IT coach, and honestly, not sure if it is for me. There is a blog post about my year cooking, but for now let me say that I am frustrated with the speed of change, with the repetition of ideas, the feeling that we are spinning our wheels, that nothing is happening. This is my frustration and I am sorry if I tainted the conference with my own issues.

    This helped. Rebbekah said, “So we will have to repeat ourselves, a lot. And we will have to defend our beliefs, a lot. And we will have to be accepting of their ideas and their needs. And we have to accept that we may have to do things we don’t like, because that is what we do in communities. We have decide what battles are worth it and what ones we must let go. And when we’re tired of doing those all those things, we suck it up and do it again. Because that’s how change happens.”

    Great advice. We are dealing with revolutionary ideas that are slowed down by the reality of reform. This is difficult for me. #suckitup I know, I know.

    Sorry, I had hoped the mea culpa section would be longer, but I don’t want to beat a dead horse. I hope you all understand how important sincerity is to me, and if you do, let me say as sincerely as I can, I am sorry for the way I chose to share my thoughts on what I honestly felt was a great conference. I am glad that you all chose to call me on it. I am proud to have you in my network, in my community, as my friends. This has been a great lesson for me in terms of online communication, manners, and etiquette. I am sure I will do it again in the future, but for now I think I have learn something.

    Places I felt misunderstood, that I would like to reiterate and clarify

    It feels disingenuous to admit you are wrong, followed by a but…..KL already pointed out how annoying that is, but (however?) there are ideas beyond the conference, where I felt misunderstood. I have tried really hard not to make this personal. I do not want to argue back and forth, but you made some great points which I want to address in the context of what I said, or was trying to say.

    The first is this idea that we all work at individuals schools and that our work must be done isolation. Yes, we all have individual factors and issues that influence how we move forward, but we also share some pretty simple, similar, broad-brush stroke goals. In short, we hope to end up in similar place.

    This idea of identifying, articulating and expressing these common goals is what I was hoping would come from a “task force” committed to creating a guide to what this looks like. I mentioned culture as a big umbrella, but perhaps it must be more nuisanced.

    Adrienne, you said, “The reality is we need to backwards plan (just like you would in your classroom) and ask: What is it we are trying to achieve?”

    Yes! I agree. We are all trying to achieve smaller practical goals in our schools, but don’t we always say that the big ideas are the same? So what can’t we have a shared backwardly planned big picture?

    We have a unique opportunity in Asia. We have built (are building) a sturdy community of like-minded educators in a relatively small region. We chat on Twitter, we read each others blogs, we see each other 2-3 times a year at conferences, and we always seem to grumble about what next. I want to exploit this community to work as a team to do some useful things together. I am not sure exactly what those things are, but I have some ideas. I want to build a team to collaboratively create a shared set of resources for international schools in Asia to guide our regional understanding of Educational Technology. Problem is I don’t know how. I need your help.

    You said, “It sounds like you want to map something together with the participants of #beyondlaptops and start hammering out action plans. But here’s the thing: those logistics won’t look the same for my school as they will for yours. They never will, and (particularly in the spirit of MYP) they never should!

    I agree hammered our action plans dealing with school specific logistics are not practical, and not what I was suggesting. I would like to see a wider set of shared ideas. Even the MYP has shared jargon, criteria, rubrics, etc…why can’t we have create a set of shared resources, so we don’t have to do it all alone. For example: I know Kim has been creating a set of blogging rubrics. Why can’t we set up roles for members to add to that, create it, publish, make it look pretty and have everyone who wants to use it, use it–and those who need to adapt it for their schools can do so? It feels like we are all re-inventing the wheel in isolation.

    This is the set of resources is cultural guide, I think WIll and I are talking about. There are things like the NETS standards, but I would love to see a regional set of standards that we create and use. To push the cultural analogy to the breaking point, when we travel we like to have context in which to operate, why can’t we have a shared digital cultural context? The horizon report list was a starting point, I am not sure where it will end up.

    You said, “Develop a working plan of how to shift educational practice. The working together to develop a working plan of how to shift educational practice — that bit starts with you, in your school, in your collaborative teams. That transformative shift you’re looking for starts with you in your school — not at a conference, however informal.

    You are right, it does start and end with our own schools and our own teams, but there is no reason why the path cannot be traversed with a common map created by everyone on the journey.

    You mentioned, “It’s hard because we work in schools, real schools — not the ideal ones No, we’re in real schools to make change in this reality is hard work and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do it.”

    Trust me! I have torn off my sleeves and am an exhausted mess.

    Honestly, this is the part of your argument that I took personally. I am not sure you know exactly what I have done on a personal level or as a school team. We have done some great work with what we have. We have SUCKED it up and are DOING it. I am very proud of the shift we are making at my school. (Sorry I had to throw that out there.) But I often feel isolated and alone in what we are doing. I know you are all going through the same frustration and isolation, I am just suggesting that we help each other.

    Other great points, “It’s time to start answering these within our own school communities. There is no single answer. There is no magic pill. There is no best. This is not absolute.

    I never suggested that there is one answer. I simply suggested we move forward together in a more organized manner. This coming from the type B ideas guy. I am not sure what any of this will look like. I am just thinking out loud.

    “Our action will change the future of education.”

    Perhaps, I see the word “our” in that sentences in a broader sense.

    Rebbekah said, “No conference can bring about a culture shift. A shift won’t happen by forming a small task force who then comes down from the conference room holding a guidebook for where school culture should go. The idea of a small task-force who decides what is best for an individual school or the entire educational system scares me.

    All great points. So what does bring about a culture shift? (back to the revolution versus reform debate) Yes, day-to-day work in isolation works over time. Baby steps. I get it. I now see that the cultural guidebook idea is limited, and that I am clinging to it, so I will drop it. As I have said several times, we are working in a unique small region with a healthy community, it seems irresponsible not to take advantage of what we can create to help us all.

    Rebbekah said , “We (whatever tribe the #beyondlaptops crowd belongs too) are not the only stakeholders in the education of children and are not the only ones who are passionate about ensuring that schools are a place where students are educated/inspired motivated.

    You are right, we are not the only ones, but we are in a sense on the fore-front, we are the leaders in terms of education technology. We can act as guides and take the lead. That is after all our jobs. I am not suggesting dogma or a set of commandments….but a guide and shared resources.

    Final note in the I feel misunderstood category:

    KL said, “A little saddened that you chose to elaborate in your own very public forum, without taking the time to give detailed feedback at the conference itself. If I had devoted a huge amount of time to organizing and preparing a conference, and had taken the time to create a feedback survey AND had given something in the vicinity of 30 minutes to allow people to complete the survey without rushing, I would be a little miffed to learn someone couldn’t really be bothered sharing their thoughts and obvious dissatisfactions in a more private forum, but would rather publicly share their feelings in a blog post about it!

    I agree that it is unfair to devote so much time preparing something then have someone say they are not in the mood to offer feedback. That was bad form…move it to the I am sorry list. That is not what I mean. Saying I was not in the mood was inseensitve and wrong. I am sorry. Asking people to offer feedback after two days of intense thinking is slightly unrealistic. Honestly, I was mentally drained. So when I said I wasn’t in the mood, I misspoke–I don’t think I could have physically done it.

    Having said that, you asked–why choose to criticize publicly? Criticism was actually never my intention. I was just sharing thoughts, but criticize is what I did. I see that now. But look at the conversation that has bloomed from my mistake. I know it is painful and hard to be publicly called out. I know. I have been sick with emotion for 12 hours. But, communities need this. As long as we are not being nasty and remember that we are on the same team and headed to the same place, I think public conversation like this one will only help a community understand itself and grow.

    I saw your tweet about public praise and private criticism, but not sure I agree. I need to think more on this idea.

    What would it look like if we only publicly patted each other on the backs, but then griped and complained in private? How would we collectively form a shared understanding of ourselves? How would we learn from each other? As you know I am a big fan of open sharing. Even if that is uncomfortable sometimes.

    Deep breath!

    I hope I did not sound defensive. Sorry I was a bit repetitive. I know what you are all trying to do and I appreciate it. I just want to be clear on what I think, even if I may not be 100% sure. This is it huh? This is the process. I think I will save the lessons learned from this exchange for it’s own blog post. This comment is already WAAAAAAYYYYYY too long.

    Reply
    1. avatarAdrienne
      Twitter: amichetti

      Jabiz, I’m not in any way suggesting we all go away and work in isolation. Conversations are what move us forward, challenge us, and inspire us. We need to keep talking and sharing. But what you’re after —

      identifying, articulating and expressing these common goals is what I was hoping would come from a “task force” committed to creating a guide to what this looks like…. don’t we always say that the big ideas are the same? So what can’t we have a shared backwardly planned big picture?…. I want to exploit this community to work as a team to do some useful things together. …. I want to build a team to collaboratively create a shared set of resources for international schools in Asia to guide our regional understanding of Educational Technology. “

      — I feel we’re already doing these things! We already have them. What exactly you’re after is sounding to me like a mythical Holy Grail of Ed Tech Asia — I don’t think it exists. We HAVE the resources. We HAVE teams. We HAVE guides. And n0, I don’t think that we can have a “shared backwardly planned big picture.” Because (like in our classrooms), even if the goals are the same (and let’s be honest– they often are not), the paths will be very different.

      If this isn’t what you’re after, then what is it? Can you even describe it? Or are you simply looking for something tangible because you want the security of having a “thing” to use, a plan to follow, an artifact to refer to? Or do you want something to showcase your work, your process, your “product” or your team? (read: your ego). The truth is, all you have is all you need. (This is sounding a bit like a YA novel, but it really is that simple!)

      I am not suggesting dogma or a set of commandments….but a guide and shared resources.

      The guide is what you create in your school. The shared resources exist already — on your blog, on Kim’s, on ISTE.org, on Scribd and iWork, and everywhere else the Web lives. There are also many resources in our own schools — the people we work with who are most resistant. They, in fact, are our most valuable resource because of what we have to learn from them. How do we corral all of this into one place? How does one capture the universe? It’s impossible, and it changes daily (Instagram today, Facebook tomorrow). We cannot contain it. So we have to keep going back. Again and again. And re-shaping and re-shifting, and repeating and reinventing what we do, like Rebekah said.

      I know you’re doing great work at SWA — it’s evident in so many things, places, people. But I sense that a big part of your frustration is in the pace, and frankly I think that’s something you have to make peace with so that you can focus your efforts more effectively. Read about the history and research of educational reform and you’ll soon see the recurring theme that few schools/districts give any initiative enough time to see the changes — a minimum of 3 years is what it takes, and no one wants to wait that long, so out of frustration they change things again and wonder why they aren’t getting results, and… well, you can see where that cycle goes. (Ira Socol has some great suggestions; I’d start with Payne’s So Much Reform, So Little Change).

      Reply
      1. avatarJabiz Post author

        We are obviously nearing the end of this thread. I don’t say that because I want you to stop, but perhaps we need a break from it to process. We may be at a agree to disagree impasse. Having said that, I feel that we agree on so much and we are close to an agreement if not and understanding. I think the secret is the level of degrees.

        You say that you, “feel we’re already doing these things! We already have them.”

        Yes I agree but they are scattered and disconnected. I am not looking for one mythical Holy Grail of Ed Tech Asia or any one resource. I agree, “I don’t think it exists.” Perhaps I am just suggesting that we align the resources we do have in a more concentrated and communal manner.

        Yes, “We HAVE the resources. We HAVE teams. We HAVE guides.”but why can’t we share more deliberately. Reminds of the UN in ways. We are all sovereign nations, but we can have projects that we work on together. Not accidentally but on purpose. WITH PURPOSE! This is all I am saying. And when we meet at conference we can review and delegate and assess how we are going. Shared collections on Google docs, co-created documents, and rubrics, examples of vision statements, etc… We could decide what we need to create as a whole and what needs to be unique. I don’t have all the answers. That is my point.

        You said, “And n0, I don’t think that we can have a “shared backwardly planned big picture.” Because (like in our classrooms), even if the goals are the same (and let’s be honest– they often are not), the paths will be very different.”

        But surely you can share guiding questions, significant concepts and big picture stuff. The paths are different and should be, but identifying where we are going and sharing maps doesn’t have to be.

        “Are you simply looking for something tangible because you want the security of having a “thing” to use, a plan to follow, an artifact to refer to? Or do you want something to showcase your work, your process, your “product” or your team? (read: your ego). The truth is, all you have is all you need. (This is sounding a bit like a YA novel, but it really is that simple!)

        I have to admit that I offense to this comment. I know I joke online about vanity and ego, but I would hope that you know me well enough and respect my work and ideas enough to know that I am not in this business to be some edtech consultant. I want to share to learn and explore, not to toot my own horn. I don’t want to showcase anything that is mine, I want build what is ours.

        I think we are going in circles again, and perhaps where we can pick up over drinks in Singapore. Final thought:

        The guide is what you create in your school. The shared resources exist already — on your blog, on Kim’s, on ISTE.org, on Scribd and iWork, and everywhere else the Web lives. There are also many resources in our own schools — the people we work with who are most resistant. They, in fact, are our most valuable resource because of what we have to learn from them. How do we corral all of this into one place? How does one capture the universe?

        Yes, it is hard to corral the universe. Yes, we all have stuff we are working on. Yes it is unique to our schools. All correct. But back to the UN analogy . Can’t that be said about any tension between sovereignty and community? Sure every nation is fighting poverty on its own, but why is the UN trying to find common vision, goals, practice, language? (Yes, I know of the notorious reputation if the UN as ineffective, but us idealist have to keep the faith)

        “I sense that a big part of your frustration is in the pace, and frankly I think that’s something you have to make peace with so that you can focus your efforts more effectively.”

        True dat. I am just looking for team.

        Reply
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  20. avatarBrady Cline
    Twitter: becline

    Jabiz – what makes you so irresistible is your ability to be provocatively critical and at the same time be vulnerable in a way that [usually] makes it clear that your frustrations are really about your own strivings rather than someone else’s shortcomings.

    I think you did a great job clarifying your original post and righting any wrongs. I certainly didn’t agree with everything you wrote, however I think it is worth repeating what I wrote before:

    I really do think we are all in basic agreement more than you recognize, so I think the tension that you (and most of us) felt, is a tension within ourselves.

    As much as it would be easy for me to pile on, the fact is, I’m with Jabiz: I am deeply troubled by the shortcomings of what we do despite our immense effort. Ok, I’m just going to say it – I can’t imagine that anyone attended #beyondlaptops and didn’t walk away both inspired and frustrated with the hard work left ahead. Somehow I thought that Kim’s vision was to move #beyond the regular self-congratulatory conferences and start the process of “sucking it up.”

    So – all the words in this thread are useless if they don’t help us clarify and move us towards more explicit action. That’s been the role of this discussion to me, so let me turn back toward that.

    You wrote that you are basically all alone and that is difficult for you. I, on the other hand, am at a larger school with 5+ of us working together. We all find that it’s easy to get bogged down in a bureaucracy, and change is complicated. (I sometimes miss working at a small school where I could just get stuff done.) Despite these differences – I think our interests align: I feel (and I believe my ICT colleagues here agree) that in order for us to effectively impact the culture of the school, we need to get our sh*t together and put together a new, comprehensive framework for ICT. We need a formalized coaching model and a proper curriculum that links meaningfully to ATLs and TD Skills. Adrienne might argue that this is the work of individual schools, but my perspective is that, at least in some schools, it is important both practically and politically to present action plans and pedagogical goals that have been developed and vetted in a larger professional community. Our school doesn’t want to reinvent itself completely every time an ICT teacher leaves and we need to present ideas that have lasting power and are acknowledged as accepted best-practices in similar schools across the region.

    That’s why I put forth my concept of a few schools working in much tighter collaboration – not to necessarily write a common set of IT benchmarks, but to produce a few white papers that we can bring back to our schools. We would then create a close network of schools that could implement similar programs and share our best and worst results. I don’t expect that appeals to everyone, but everyone is too many anyway. I’ve received a few DMs expressing interest, so I am hopeful that some like-minded people can make it happen. For those looking for something else – great. Good luck to all of us, no matter how we want to do it.

    Reply
  21. avatarAdrienne
    Twitter: amichetti

    Hang on.

    Writing white papers is not the same as developing a coaching model and curriculum aligned to ATL and TD skills. The latter (coaching and curriculum) definitely should be the work of individual schools, IMO. No two international schools should have the same curriculum. Frameworks, yes. I know you didn’t attend the breakout session I facilitated, but I think you might be surprised at how ICT is more directly approached in the next iteration of MYP, particularly with respect to ATL.

    I’m all for the big picture stuff in terms of inter-school collaboration — to me that’s exactly what #beyondlaptops was for! But when it comes to the action to move schools forward, THAT is something I think that needs to be done locally if you want a) buy-in and b) effective implementation.

    I for one did not leave the conference frustrated. I’ve spent my entire career frustrated and that is what propelled me to do more, as I said. My frustration compels me to action. Big ideas are great – they shape our vision and our goals. And now it’s time to get to work.

    Reply
  22. avatarJohn Turner
    Twitter: jturner56

    Like you I see frustration as a key element of learning.
    That’s why we see a White Paper and Action Plan (which is the internal mechanism for support for curriculum and learning) as interlocking communications so that all know where we are a group should be heading. In this diversity is also a key consideration.
    Like Jabiz I was not at your breakout session, but I found the one we were at on vision discussions one of the best part of the conference for the sharing of common issues and frustrations.
    Vision/Direstion and structure are not the same thing but to see one as more important that the other to me limits potential and far too long in too many areas we have been caught up with not extending our vision beyond what 1:1 can provide and used individual example as systemic justification.
    Like you I did not leave the confence frustrated but the quest for embedded learning of value applicable to the digital age goes on.

    Reply
  23. avatarGary Stager
    Twitter: garystager

    Hi,

    I agree with many of the insightful points you make, although I think the Horizon Report is relatively worthless and filled with the sorts of “wisdom” one could find by reading a newspaper or visiting an electronics shop.

    You might find this quote interesting – http://dailypapert.com/?p=1058 – Make sure you note the date.

    When I hear “it’s not about the computer,” I want to scream, “then perhaps you’re not using them properly!” Technology DOES influence and transform behavior. It failure to do so in schools is rooted in our own bankruptcy of imagination. A coherent progressive/learner-centered/constructionist philosophy of education makes the creative thoughtful use of computers and related technologies self-evident.

    As I wrote in “Dumbing Down,” http://stager.tv/blog/?p=2691 Computer “literacy” is the only example of literacy that has been downgraded over time.

    Check out this book, Reflections of a Learning Community.” (free online) It was written about 1:1 computing implementation and vision in 1993 before “learning community” became a cliché – http://stager.tv/blog/?p=2660 or “Twenty Things to Do with a Computer” http://stager.tv/blog/?p=1616 (published in 1971) and see how your schools measure up today.

    Perhaps the challenge is that well-resourced schools with the means to purchase any gadget available find it impossible to move beyond the “what it’s not for” because at the core of their institutions is not only a resistance to change, but a total unwillingness to do so. This is rooted in a business model predicated on the proposition that all of the students are academically gifted and on their way to Harvard or Oxford.

    We stand on the shoulders of giants. Every problem in education has been solved somewhere.

    We know what to do, if we’re willing to do it.

    Need evidence of courage? Check out:

    htttp://constructivistconsortium.org/books
    http://dailypapert.com

    Reply
    1. avatarJabiz Post author

      Thanks for joining the conversation Gary, as always I will look through your resources. This thread has really worn me out, but I think you do bring up a good point, that perhaps out frustration has nothing to do with tech at all, but the fact that we want to work in progressive schools that are inquiry based, hands on, different, but we are not. We think that tech will get us there, but it never will on its own. That is food for thought, that I will incorporate into my next post.

      As for the Horizon report, whatever. NETS, Horizon, I think it gives us some simple language and ideas to start off with. I am not saying it is the end all be all, but it is a start and no need to re-invent the wheel. We can add or remove some ideas, but of that list…most seem relevant to both tech and this new form school we hope to create. That is if we add programming of course :)

      Hope I didn’t come across as dismissive of your points, but a 43 comment post can be exhausting. I appreciate you stopping by, see you soon.

      Reply
  24. avatarWill Kirkwood
    Twitter: wkirkwood

    Hi all,

    I am returning to this discussion after being away (school trip) for a few days and it is amazing to see the complexity and the depth of the discussion here. Wouldn’t it have been great if we could have sat down in person and discussed these issues? We would be able to discuss, challenge, evaluate and clarify our thoughts and beliefs in real time.

    My time away from this discussion has given me a moment to clarify my thoughts.

    Like Jabiz I too realize that I should have been more careful with the way I crafted my thoughts as I may have come across in a negative light. It was not intended that way. I was just trying to highlight the realizations I had made about myself.

    I will try to clarify my thoughts here in a clear manner.

    I really feel that we are all in basic agreement on the reality we face – our kids are growing up in a new world/culture, our schools are all different and we are trying out how best to support/futher/inspire student learning in this new reality.

    The community we had at #beyondlaptops were all individuals who have and continue to work towards addressing (and re-addressing) this shift. This is why this conference was like a “breath of fresh air” – we had people who had a common focus. Yes they came from different schools and held different positions but we were all looking at addressing a similar set of issues.

    The conference itself and the discussions that have continued since have truly proven to be a fantastic professional experience. It has really challenged my thoughts and practice. It has provided my with even more inspiration to challenge what education could/should be like in my own reality – my school. We have a very strong group of educators here who are focused on this shift and always strive to best meet our student’s needs.

    While the group of educators at my school and myself have many ideas of how we can help make this shift a reality it is always useful to have those ideas challenged/discussed by people who have a different perspective. This is what I was referring to when I mentioned that I would like to sit down with a group of people to discuss ideas. I was not saying that we all needed to leave the discussion with the same “road map” of how to make the shift but instead we would all leave the room with a clearer understanding of how to shift our own reality.

    I think the United Nations analogy really sums up my thoughts. Yes we all must take action in our own schools but it would be fantastic if there was a place where we could openly share our “road maps” and where those in attendance would be able to offer their “true” opinions (warts and all). I feel that this discussion thread highlights that at least part of this needs to be done face to face because at times it is difficult to get across your “true” opinions when communicating online.

    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts it has given me the inspiration to move things forward that little bit more.

    Reply
    1. avatarJabiz Post author

      I’ll be in touch soon, when I have carved out a basic outline of what I think we are both after. Then we can perhaps begin to draft some ideas in Google Docs and see where we go.

      Reply
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