One of the misconceptions about a digital learning symposium, is that the man is trying to cram technology down the throats of educators. In discussions with @GibbRyanM, he emphasized the need to be adaptable when approaching digital learning practices.
One of the sessions of the symposium was how do we enable a system wide change to best enable student learning within every classroom. The best way to encourage teachers to be adaptable, is to share best practices so they have a firm understanding of all of their options.
Best practices should come from other teachers collaborating with other teachers, who can articulate both how and why they work within their classrooms. A board executive who hasn’t tried it within a classroom may not be the best informed in terms of practical strategies, and students may not be able to articulate the why. Thus, it should be teachers informing teachers.
Secondly, PD time should be devoted to this teacher collaboration. If we don’t make time for it, it won’t happen. Sure, on a small scale, people will discuss over lunch, maybe briefly at the end of the day; however, if the board is serious about system wide change, there should be subject association time devoted to the betterment of classroom practices. Beyond this, collaboration with community members, universities and colleges, and other boards should be made a priority.
Value Authentic Student Success
My conversation with students at the conference demonstrated their love for learning when it applies to their interests. Once example was a rock-climbing enthusiast who got to make a workout plan within his Power Fit class. I love this example because it’s out of the Future Forums bubble and does not rely on technology to prove the point: Students are excited about learning when it applies to them. As educators, we should integrate non-fictional, relevant examples and opportunities for them to demonstrate their learning and engage with the curriculum in a meaningful way.
So who’s in charge of implementing this change? Everyone. Students: Ask teachers for alternatives when you see an opportunity to connect your class to your interests. Teachers: When PD time is available, don’t hesitate to initiate these conversations about best practices. Have the courage to try some new things in your classroom, and realize that learning gets messy at times. Admin and board consultants: Give time for teacher lead PD. Meetings do not need to be scheduled down to the minute; allow time for organic reflection and collaboration among educators.