Monday, September 14, 2009

My Ed Tech Manifesto (part 1)-- Creeping toward Connectivism)

I have never really contemplated my "educational philosophy." Even on my first job applications out of college, I fudged that section, blurring principles with methods. This is in part because I am a practical person. I'm willing to compromise and change course. When I coached basketball, I adapted my approach to the players rather than teach them my offensive or defensive "philosophy".

Also, my formal introduction into educational philosophy and was a bit of a disaster. Rebounding from the Sixties, my profs were all about completely open schools and Teaching as a Subversive Activity. Once my grad assistant teachers simply brought two children to our class, and we watched them play for half an hour. The profound lesson of this escaped me. I think it had something to do with not letting these poor innocents become just another brick in the wall.

So why would I start musing about educational philosophy in my thirty-fifth year of teaching? Well, as usual for me these days, it's the unintended consequence of my tech activities. Through the Fall of '08, I had been consumed with the classroom ramifications of the read/write Web. Then, in winter '09, I grappled with writing a staff development proposal for our tech integration committee. In it I called for changing the school culture by establishing school wide social media"projects":

Staff would engage in the same kinds of collaboration experiences we wish to provide our students. And really, if the school is committed to the program, no one should be exempt through special pleading of being "too busy."

Since writing those words I came across a statement by faire alchemist that nailed what I was going for:

. . . .computers have been around for a long time. But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the network itself. We're talking about the paradigm of immediate global connection. [We need to] engage this thing for the benefit of the students who are already living their own lives in this digital domain,

When I was drafting my staff development plan I shot it off to several experts, requesting feedback. A thoughtful, nuanced reply came from George Siemens. His paradigm of "connectivism"-- hit me right between the eyes. . . .and is the subject of part 2 (September 16 post).

"Skirt on a Box Bike" Flickr Creative Commons photo by Mark Stosberg

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