21 Century Mythologie
As augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence creep their way into mainstream society, what will happen to our education system, or more specifically, to teachers? Are you ready for what lies ahead? According to Fullan, “only 8 percent of teachers fully integrate technology into the classroom” and “only 23 percent of teachers feel that they could integrate technology in the classroom” (2013, p. 37). Although those statistics date back to 2013, I believe that with the changes that these technologies bring, these numbers are still relevant, and even more alarming today.
How can we get ready for what is to come when there is no way to predict it? As these tools become readily available, we need to familiarize ourselves with them and with the opportunities they present. However, we should not be fooled into integrating technology without first thinking about the pedagogy, and, more importantly, of the role the teacher plays in the equation. Since technology has given birth to a multi-billion dollar gaming industry (Fullan, 2013, p. 41), it is difficult to see technology as an education tool since its first use is for entertainment. Yet, there is a lot we can learn from this industry, such as how to make learning, “irresistibly engaging, elegantly efficient, technologically ubiquitous and steeped in real-life problem solving” (Fullan, 2013, p. 33).
This being said teachers should not lose sight of their area of expertise which is pedagogy. They are the experts at creating lessons and could be more involved in creating rich learning simulations such as “serious gaming for education” (Fullan, 2013, p. 38). No matter how great technology is “It still requires a great teacher” (Fullan, 2013, p. 38) and if we “omit the teacher. It is as if the pedagogy is irrelevant.” (Fullan, 2013, p. 38). Much like Fullan, I encourage teachers to get out there and take part in the creation of new innovative ways of teaching, “my message is, pedagogues, get in there! (Many of the games are in business, the military, the health sector, but not in education)” (2013, p. 41).
Of course, this might seem like an edutopia. Yet, if we combine our knowledge and efforts we could create a better experience for teachers and students alike. By creating a learning community that creates a “partnership between teachers and students (and among teachers and students)” (Fullan, 2013, p. 39) we could take part in creating, not only better learning experiences, but a better world. In order to implement a successful learning community, we need to follow MacFarlane’s advice: “When it comes to creating a better experience for teachers and students, ownership, independence and self-determination are important elements of a Learning Network” (2013).
Fullan, M. (2013). Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge – Chapter 4 – Digital Disappointments and Dreams. Don Mills, ON: Pearson.
MacFarlane, M. (2013). Understanding & creating professional learning networks. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uoJwy3oa0I
This week we were challenged to create an artifact about Michael Fullan’s book Stratosphere. We were split into groups and had the opportunity to collaborate with new people, both synchronously and asynchronously in the creation of our artifact. Our group chose to study Stratosphere from the perspective of change knowledge. The final result turned out great, you can find it at this link: https://changeknowledge.weebly.com/ if you wish to review it.
Although we all have different schedules, and we all live busy lives, we were able to get together and have everyone contribute their different perspectives. With one administrator, one coach, one elementary and one secondary teacher, I believe the rich diversity of our team allowed for a considerable dialogue. Through online meetings, email exchanges, what I have learned is that when you work with new people, it is important to share what you can bring to the team and your area of expertise. For my part, it was the visual design aspect. One of the many takeaways from working with the team was a new technology tool, deck.toys. I had never seen it before, but after a bit of exploring, it is something I integrated to my coaching sessions and it was a hit.
Once we had published our artifact, we were invited to review other teams’ artifacts and comment on them. Firstly, I was impressed by the quality and, again, learned a lot from my peers. Although, we had all read the book, this group project forced a deeper study of pedagogy, technology and change knowledge. I found it interesting to see the different examples that were chosen to support the book’s quotes. Although all I appreciated all of the projects, one of them really stood out because it was informative, visually pleasing and seamlessly interactive. It was created with Venngage an infographic maker that asks a question then shows the data in an animated table format. This a tool I will be using in the near future.
In conclusion, as Sir Ken Robinson says “creativity loves collaboration and creativity thrives on diversity” (as cited by Fullan, 2013, p. 24). In this project we were able to be creative by sharing our different talents and experiences, therefore maximizing our collective efficacy. Moreover, we were able to gain knowledge from diverse viewpoints, both from our team and other teams’ artifacts. These brought us a better understanding of the book and profound learning from each other. I believe that this strategy should be implemented in classrooms everywhere to allow for better collaboration, creativity and understanding. As the African proverb says: “alone we go faster, together we go further”.
Fullan, M. (2013). Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge. Don Mills, ON:Pearson.
Characteristics of Technology Leaders and Online Learning Communities
We want our kids, our students to be innovative leaders but are we? Are we ready to get out of our comfort zone, set an example for them, and lead the way? Albert Einstein once said, “example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach”. As teachers, coaches and administrators we have to “walk the talk” and set an example for our kids and students who are looking up to us. “Not only do we need to ‘think’ differently’ but we need to ‘act’ different” (Couros, 2014). In other words, thinking about change is not enough. We need to embody the change we want to see in the world. “For leaders to be effective in changing a school or an organization, they need to change themselves first” (Couros, 2014). This is not easily done, it forces us to face some of our fears and more importantly to get out of our comfort zone.
But what does innovative leadership look like?
According to Couros, there are 8 characteristics that are embodied by innovative leaders. first, we need to be visionary, we need to have a “powerful vision” but also, we need to be able to communicate that vision and break it down into smaller steps to make it happen (2014). Secondly, we need to be empathic, meaning that we need to understand the needs of the people we lead. For instance, by being respectful of other people’s time, we can replace part of a meeting by an email. “Is having a shorter meeting innovative? No. But trying to put yourself in the place of those that you serve is where innovation begins” (2014). Third, we need to model learning ourselves, we need to stay informed and gain new perspectives, by reading books and blogs, watching videos, listening to podcasts attending conferences, etc. because, “we rarely create something different until we experience something different” (2014). Fourthly, we need to be open risk takers, it is not enough to say that we take risks, if we want to create an innovative culture we must make ourselves vulnerable and be ready to openly model it by trying something new (2014). Fifth, we need to be networked, we need to be able to reach out and see how things are done elsewhere and get inspired by these new ideas to improve our own (2014). Sixth, we need to be observant, we need to see what works not only within our school, in other schools but also in other industries, then we can think of new innovative ways to improve our own practices (2014). Seventh, we need to be team builders, we need to foster divergent thinking and surround ourselves with people who will challenge us to think further (2014). Finally, we need to always focus on relationships, I strongly believe that, “When people know they are valued and safe in trying new things, they are more likely to do something better” (2014).
Couros, G. (2014). 8 Characteristics of the Innovative Leader. [Blog]. Retrieved from https://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/4811
Digital Pedagogy and Change
Need for change
As a pedagogical coach, I have assisted many bored students and alienated teachers, but does it have to be that way? For example, some kids, even successful ones, after graduation take pleasure in burning their books (Richardson, 2017). Knowing this, we can “use change knowledge deliberately to understand obstacles and to move beyond them” (Fullan, 2013, p. 70). What if, as Pam Moran suggests, learning was not seen as painful, but as something that is continuous, where students can be curious and work on improving themselves, they might want to hold on to their learning (Richardson, 2017).
Ideas, Innovations and Technologies
As new ideas, innovations and technologies transform our world, we have to remember “the education revolution is not a given” (Fullan, 2013, p. 58). When I coach teachers on technology integration, we often have some deep discussions about how the role of teachers and schools are evolving. Often, when I show tools, such as text to speech, teachers are resistant at first. I have often heard “By using this tool, we are not teaching students how to write”. However, what I hear is “that is not the way I learned how to write” and that is okay.
We do not have to take the same path to reach our destination. We have to explore new innovations, only then can we judge if they improve learning. “Failure to act is to leave dispirited teachers and students at the mercy of dominant technologies” (Fullan, 2013, p. 69). As a Canadian research states, “kids these days are technological whizzes when it comes to the tools, but pedagogically clueless with respect to getting the best out of it” (Fullan, 2013, p. 59). In other words, even with the best technology, we still need to have strong pedagogy and a great teacher to lead the way (Fullan, 2013, p.60). Otherwise, technology becomes just a beautiful toy.
Pitch and Support
When we have a great idea, it is important to learn how to communicate and transform it into a Yes. As explained by Fullan, “if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute, the desired qualities” (2013, p. 56). We have to convince people to believe in the change before they become change agents. As explained by Simon Sinek, “people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it" (2009). When teachers and students suggest change, it is important to know how that idea will be received. “If you say no they'll never come back to you and they’re going to tell a whole bunch of other people, don’t bother” (Richardson, 2017) Evidently, not all ideas become a reality, but they can be adapted to nurture an innovative culture of Yes.
Fullan, M. (2013). Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge – Chapter 5 – Design principles and change knowledge. Don Mills, ON: Pearson.
Richardson, W. (2017). Developing a culture of yes with Pam Moran. Modern Learners. [Podcast]. Retrieved from https://modernlearners.com/pam-moran/
Sinek, Simon. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009). Penguin Publishing Group.
Leadership Theories, Diversity and Ethical Perspectives
When it comes to education, one size does not fit all! I often get asked what tool, strategy or technology I recommend, and the short answer is: it depends. I have not yet found this secret, magic formula and the truth is, it does not exist. We are all different and what works for one might not work for another. As Couros puts it, “Personalize, not standardize.” (2015)
Many tend to want to treat everybody the same way, thinking, perhaps, that conformity leads to better results. Jandric describes this as “Schools taught conformity, squelched real learning, overlooked individual differences among children youth, and were holding tanks for eventual dropouts.” (2017). My experience has taught me that we all have different needs, that there are many ways to achieve success, and for some, it simply takes more time. Couros describes this sentiment in his blog by stating “I promise you that I will not take away your pen and paper to learn, if you let me use my computer to do the same. Deal?” (2015) Personally, I like to use a variety of tools, strategies and technologies depending on what I want to accomplish. If I had to limit myself to just one tool, it would be like building an entire house with just a hammer, nearly impossible. So why would we limit our students to using only one device? Are we limiting our students to the ones we are familiar with? When we give students the power to choose, we differentiate and personalize learning which, in turn, empowers students. As Fullan says, “Learning is all about purposeful engagement.” (2013, p. 17)
Sometimes, we fail to see that school can be simultaneously fun, as well as educational. They are not mutually exclusive. In his article Classroom without walls, McLuhan explains that “It’s like setting up a distinction between didactic & lyric poetry on the ground that one teaches, the other pleases. However, it’s always been true that whatever pleases teaches more effectively.” (1957) Fullan tells us that “Intrinsic motivation is fuelled by play (experimenting), purpose (wanting to make a difference), and passion (devoting yourself to something you find deeply meaningful).” (2013, p. 23) That is why I believe that we should make education more fun and relevant.
School is serious business, but how can we make it fun and relevant for all? First, we need to help students find and develop their passion “what Robinson calls “the element”. We have always known that purpose and passion are at the core of star business entrepreneurs and athletes.” (Fullan, 2013, p. 32) Second, and most importantly, we must build relationships with our students. Research shows that by taking only two minutes to talk with even the most difficult students for ten consecutive days, we will have a significant impact on student learning. (Fullan, 2013, p. 20) In summary, instead of making students fit into our system let's try to make our system fit our students.
Couros, G. (2015). Personalize, not standardize. [Website]. Retrieved from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5346
Fullan, M. (2013). Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge – Chapter 3 – Pedagogy and change: Essence as Easy. Don Mills, ON: Pearson.
Jandrić, P. (2017). The dubious promise of educational technologies: Historical patterns and future challenges. In Learning in the Age of Digital Reason. (pp. 3-16). Rotterdam, NY: Sense Publishers.
McLuhan, M. (1957). Classroom without walls. In Carpenter E, McLuhan M (Eds) Explorations in Communication. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1–3.
Lead with me, lead for the years, teach for the laughter not for the tears.
Dream on, learn on, teach on, dream until our dreams come true.
Dream On! Remix by Joannie Girard (Tyler, 1973)
This week as I reflected on my moral imperative, I thought of the song Dream On by Aerosmith and I remixed it with what I want to achieve as a learner, a teacher, a coach and a leader, and what I want to embody to have a positive impact on the world of education.
First, Dream On! Allow others and yourself to have a dream and to work toward achieving it. Too often it seems that we have a path or purpose that is predetermined for ourselves and others. But as George Couros says, “The best teams in the world build upon individual’s strengths to bring people together towards a common goal; they do not try to mould people to something that they are not.” (2015)
Second, lead with me, lead for the years, teach for the laughter not for the tears. As we want to lead our schools, our boards and the system to reach excellence we cannot do it alone. As clearly stated by Susan Fowler, “Leadership is not something you do to people; it is something you do with people”. (Couros, 2015) Also, I believe as Georges Couros describes in his blog that “Leadership’s job is not to control people, but to unleash talent”. (2015) We have to focus on building people up. This will work to improve our society and the generations to come. To do this “We have to stop thinking of an education as something that is delivered to us and instead see it as something we create for ourselves.” (Couros, 2015) I strongly believed that if done right, education can be something to be lived and not survived. If we are truly successful at empowering people in their learning and leadership, we will be able to teach for the laughter not for the tears.
Third, dream on, learn on, teach on, dream until our dreams come true. To achieve this, I plan on following the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for coaches that guide us to be a visionary leader, to design learning experiences, to create and support learning environments, to develop personalised learning programs, to model and promote good citizenship and to continuously depend their knowledge and expertise. (ISTE standards) I plan to do this until I help the people I coach reach their goals and help their dreams come true. In turn making mine be realized.
In conclusion, Dream On! Dare to dream! Dream about a better life! Dream about a better school system! But to really improve our school system, to improve the experience of school and to create a better and happier society we have to think differently and work hard. This will not be easy but we have to try before it is too late. As Praiser says, “a world constructed from the familiar is a world in which there is little to learn”. (Fullan, 2013, p. 8) Together let’s make our education system a dream and our dream a reality. (Saint-Exupery,1999)
Couros, G. (2015). 5 questions to drive personal-professional learning. [Website]. Retrieved fromhttp://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5338
Fullan, M. (2013). Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge – Chapter 2 – Technology: Power and peril. Don Mills, ON: Pearson.
International Society for Technology in Education. (2018). ISTE national educational technology standards (NETS).
International Society for Technology in Education Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards
Saint-Exupery, A. D. (1999). Le petit prince: Avec les dessins de lauteur. Paris: Gallimard.
Tyler, S. (1973). Dream On. [Radio] Boston : Columbia.
Defining Education Technology Leadership
When I started working as a tech coach with this new organization, I had an “Aha” moment. I was so enthusiastic about sharing my idea, I wanted to revolutionize the world of education and pitched my idea. However, I was met by something along the lines of “That’s a great idea! Let me see with your leader and I will get back to you!” I was profoundly perplexed about that statement and I even forgot my amazing idea. But I am a leader! Am I not a leader?
What I did not know then, is in this organization the people in charge, my bosses or principals, had the title of leader. This was and is still a bit confusing to me, since I see myself as a leader and always have. But as a great mentor of mine, Marius Bourgeoys assured me, “Leadership is not a position, it is a disposition.” Slowly, I got my fire back and now I am ready to lead. I do not want to wait to get a title, I want to lead now, and that is what I plan to do. As Fullan says “lead from the middle” I want to get involve, collaborate and play an active role in the success of my students, my school and my board. Moreover, I want to inspire others to do so as well, because we need all players to improve our education system by bringing new ideas, solutions and innovation.
But what does it mean to be an education technology leader?
There are many ways to define and observe leadership, but when we add education and technology, the definition gets blurred. Too often in my experience, technology leaders are undervalued either as customer support, tool pushers or not taken seriously. Yet, they are powerful change agents that can help grasp how our world is changing, help us ease change, and think about learning differently. Fullan describes this as the unbeatable triad, by combining technology, pedagogy and change knowledge, we attain what he calls the Stratosphere. This is an invisible synergy created by combining these three big ideas into something that can be experienced, but not seen. Which is what we need to foster if we want to create deep and lasting impact.
Education technology leaders wanted!
Effective leadership has a huge impact on learning. In fact, according to the Review of research How leadership influence student learning, the impact of leadership is second only to teaching. Personally, I am greatly influenced by outstanding leaders that inspire me to be the change I want to see in the world. This year, I had the opportunity to collaborate with some of them. This made me realize that the school cannot be led to success only by the administrators. We all have an active role to play, let’s hit the field as a team and win this together.
Fullan, M. (2015). Leading from the middle. Canadian Education Association, 55(4), 22-26. Retrieved from http://michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/LeadershipfromtheMiddle_EdCan_v55no4.pdf
Fullan, M. (2013). Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge – Chapter 1 – The Journey. Don Mills, ON: Pearson.
Leithwood, K., Seashore, S., Anderson, S. & Wahlstrom, K. (2004). Review of research: How leadership influences student learning, Executive Summary (pp. 2-15). Retrieved from http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/school-leadership/key-research/documents/how-leadership-influences-student-learning.pdf
The Learning Exchange (2017). Michael Fullan – Leading from the middle. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://thelearningexchange.ca/videos/michael-fullan-leading-from-the-middle/