The key message for the Learning 2.008 Conference will be literacy.

A dozen education bloggers queried conference keynote speakers (David Jakes, David Warlick and Clarence Fisher) on what would likely be the essential topic to discuss with our staff members when we returned to their schools. Students need to be independent thinkers. Literacy is fundamental and this is a message that all teachers can buy into because it’s not a new one. And it won’t be any different a decade from now. The focus should not be the slick web tools or sites. Instead, it is allowing opportunities for students to expose themselves to information, investigate it, employ it their lives, and express it in a compelling way. It is this final point, where many get caught in the ‘Wow’ factor of new tech toys. Further, students become digitally responsible by reviewing the ethics of computers in the world. It’s more than reading, writing and arithmetic. Ironically, the word computer was not mentioned once in our thirty minute dialogue. Now, remember, this is a technology conference!

In Lance Armstrong’s book ‘It’s not about the bike’, Lance shares how his life challenges and experiences empowered him to win the Tour de France seven times. All his competitors had the same ‘tool’ – a bike – and yet Lance was consistently more successful. The trick in education is to make our student learning authentic and meaningful.

As a teacher, we can show that we are lifelong learners by admitting that we don’t know all the answers and model daily how we synthesize information from the Internet in useful ways. As educators, we help the students form thought inspiring networks.

As professionals, educators should create their own personal learning networks – they should direct their professional development through reading blogs through RSS feed readers (such as Netvibes) or subscribing to tags (with sites such as del.ici.ous). Whether you dedicate a select number of minutes a day, listen to your stored podcasts in a taxi or have a heavy blog reading session on the weekend; keeping in regular contact with what others are doing successfully in education is the key. Taking it even further, is to then share your best learning with your immediate network of teachers.

David Warlick suggested a great meeting or class activity: ‘Think for a minute of the last thing you learned. Now share how you learned it with the person beside you.’ This reinforces that we are constantly learning and hopefully reaching globally for answers.

Finally, it’s important we take these small steps slowly and carefully.

Special thanks to all those who participated in this discussion as it was a meaningful one for me. If I misrepresented anyone’s thoughts, please correct me in the comments section. My apologies in advance for omitting some great comments I missed.Also if my links don’t work out – I had to rush out to go swimming with the kids. :S

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One Response to “It’s not about the computer”

  1. Mike,
    Could not agree more. Funny that we always seem to get caught in this technology vs. learning conundrum. It is the tech teachers that are saying, “Its not about the Tech” and we get quizzical looks all around. Unless we are talking to each other 😉

    I hope more teachers, not techies, attend that conference. Its a great one!

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