Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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Are you a Change Agent?
By Barbara Bray    May 11, 2007 -- 09:00 AM

Technology specialists and coordinators are finding that their jobs are becoming tentative - even librarians are losing hold in some districts - especially in California. So what Iím seeing are more tech people in districts, regional centers, state departments around the country are finding ways to recreate new positions for themselves. Many are creating courses that are hosted on their own servers - blogging with other techies - using Web 2.0 tools. Social networking is cool! Are we using them the right way?

I have been talking to different organizationsí tech departments around the country to change their roles to Change Agents or Digital Learning Specialists. What do you think?

Tech conferences are changing. Tech organizations are changing. Maybe we have to change with the times.

Letís stop focusing on technology - the cool tools - and get out there connecting teachers to each other -- to students -- to administrators-- to parents --to others in the community. Right now when I look at the blogs - most of the people blogging are the techies talking to each other. They are saying the right things - YES: "Itís the conversations" but are they really Change Agents?

Itís still "Training!!!!" and not the job-embedded coaching and support that transparently needs to happen during the day. I donít mean to offend my friends who present, keynote, write, and share because we definitely need you to share your stories. Keep writing, speaking, talking about all the wonderful tools that are out there and projects that people are doing. Iím learning from you.

How about using the technology to do action research while the teacher is in the classroom? - include student work as evidence and use the Change Agents to quietly observe and provide ongoing feedback.  this can happen online - really! These Change Agents then can bring tentative teachers on-board with just the right tools that they need to increase their comfort level and to be their own Change Agent. How about connecting teachers in their school, in their district? Teachers are so isolated. Administrators also. Why are we reinventing the wheel over and over again?

I want to share a project we were lucky to be included in - Pinellas County Schools in Florida created collaborative projects between an elementary, middle, and high school using eCoach. The lead teachers supported teams at each school and in thematic teams. There were over 100 teachers. They co-authored their six 6-week projects on Weather, Habitats, Native Plants, Ecology, etc. and focused on science, reading, and math- including community service and field trips. They were given the appropriate tools and lots of training. Several coaches were the leads for each team but they in turn helped each other. They were the curriculum leads and because the technology was transparent, it didnít get in the way. They uploaded videos, podcasts, and celebrated the learning going on. Kindergarten students learned side-by-side with 6th graders while being filmed by high schoolers in one project.

Weíll be doing a poster session at NECC on Tuesday June 27th 10-12 with some of the wonderful teachers who participated in this project. Pinellas will be expanding this next year. Iíll be putting up a link to it on our site soon.

Categories: "Change"

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