Education in the age of change: A TEDx Talk

I gave a talk a week ago at TEDx RockyView Schools, and I wanted to share it with a little bit of context for it with you.  One of the biggest hesitations teachers often have when I am working with them on enhancing their practice and working with digital tools is that they are somehow losing in the process.  There is an overwhelming feeling out there that the more teachers ‘put out there’ of their work and skill, the less value there is of having them in the classroom.  I used to be unsure how to respond to that fear.

For a time I thought (mainly to myself) that if the world was changing in such a way that teachers could be replaced by online tools, then I would want to be aware of those tools, familiar with them, because someone has to know how to keep the ‘machine’ running.  If all of us were on the ropes, I would at least be as valuable as I could by understanding the new technology.  Then if the teachers were all ‘let go,’ I would possibly still have some value in the new system.  It was a naïve perspective.

In doing my research for this talk, I found that I do believe that we are in the midst of a change because of technology and that we most certainly need to become familiar with technology.  This is not because technology will replace us, but rather because it could replace us if we aren’t pushing our teaching practice to be as effective as possible.

Make no mistake, there are billions of dollars at work trying to figure out the ‘next way’ in education, you need only look to the United States and the various initiatives at work there to see how money and cost-saving can effect education.  However, if you look to Alberta, Canada, you will also see some amazing efforts by teachers to integrate technologies both personal and publicly purchased, to change practice based on current research, and the possibilities the democratization of knowledge has brought to a modern education system.  These changes have been brought about by an environment of research and study, willing to look at how to best blend the expertise of teachers with the innovation technology brings.  It’s not perfect, but it does inspire hope that instead of looking to replace teachers with some learning program or hardware solution, the answer will continue to be a blended, human approach to learning.

Enjoy the talk!

I'm Drawing Again, thanks to Paper

When I was younger I used to carry a sketchbook around with me.  In fact if I wasn’t drawing, I was writing, and if I wasn’t doing either, I was reading. I might not have been a party animal, but I loved losing myself in a story, poem or drawing. I haven’t done any serious drawing since University, when life turned busy and time spent on drawing seemed frivolous.  Well, now that we are in the digital age, I have taken up drawing again, but this time with the amazing Paper app by 53.  It started with my preparation for my upcoming TEDx talk.  I was unable to find the images I was looking for, and was trying out some apps to draw out what I needed.  I had tried Paper some time ago, but like many apps, I had tested it a bit then filed it in “Might use it someday,” well, last week the day came.  By the time I had unlocked the app, I realized that I was unleashing a powerful creative tool and spent literally hours with a stylus in hand crafting some fun, some poignant and some effective images.  Now my talk entirely contains images I have created, aside from a few technology images I had to use to illustrate points.

So, how does this relate to you?  Well, there is a lesson I have learned with this app in relation to my practice with technology, particularly apps; there is a someday.  I have downloaded literally hundreds of apps for reviews, for school, for presentations, very few of which have a permanent place on any of my devices.  However, with the power of Apple’s distribution and the cloud, apps are never more than a minute or two away on a Wifi connection.  If you think an app may be useful in the future and it is on sale, or you have a promo code, grab it.  You may not use it right away, but that cloud of Apple’s can be really handy.

Finally, I am posting any images I am creating that I think might be useful to educators on my Twitter feed.  If I have posted it there with the hash tag #freetouse you can take it, modify it, sell it in your assignments on Teachers pay Teachers, whatever.  It is out there for everyone.  All I ask is if you can, and remember, tag it with my Twitter handle so others can find the resources too.  I don’t claim that my images are great, but I enjoy creating them.  I have also started ‘visualizing’ many of the meetings and chats I engage in, to create a summary of learning.  These will be posted to my Twitter account as well.  It’s how I learn, so I might as well share it!

Have a great week everyone, and thanks for reading!