Monday, September 26, 2016

#IMMOOC "Alone we are smart, together we are brilliant."

This quote from Steven Anderson (@web20classroom), "Alone we are smart, together we are brilliant," is one of the most important things to keep in mind as something essential to innovation.

The furthering of an idea through back and forth exchange with one or more other people is a magical process.  The different perspective from someone else is what you always need in order to progress.  Without that-  you will remain in the blind- not knowing what you don't know.

I work with a team of people who are all very different, which is a great thing. The different approach to the same issue brought forth from each one of them invariably leads to a strategy that's thought out, thoroughly vetted, and likely to produce great results, affecting the most amount of people.  Working in isolation just doesn't have the potential to affect significant change within an organization, and as Couros states, "Isolation is often the enemy of innovation."

Another great network of people who inspire innovative ideas and all-around brilliance- the majority of whom I've never met in person- are all the people who participate in Twitter chats.  #TOSAChat is Monday nights 8PM pacific.  This is a fast-paced discussion that generates a ton of ideas and inspiration.  I'd encourage everyone to jump in and participate in Twitter chats whenever possible!  Along those lines, investigate Tweetdeck, also, for helping to manage the activity.  A tool like Tweetdeck just makes keeping up with the fast-paced chatter a little easier.  Monday night also offers #EdTechChat- also 8PM- so, please check that out, too! And follow all that with #tlap at 9PM.  I promise you'll leave those discussions invigorated, ready to tackle the rest of the week, and most likely implementing some new idea you learned from the Twitterverse.

Remember- Together, we are brilliant!

Monday, September 19, 2016

#IMMOOC An Open Blog Post to Educators

As I started re-reading The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros (@gcouros), something that continues to really resonate with me is part of the "Open Letter to Educators" by university dropout, Dan Brown. Dan Brown says, "...You don't need to change anything.  You simply need to understand that the world is changing, and, if you don't change with it, the world will decide that it doesn't need you anymore."

I see similar thinking happening within my own daughter, currently, who is deciding that school's not keeping up with her- and she doesn't need it anymore. This girl manages her own YouTube channel, interacts with her subscribers, creates her own videos and sponsors prize giveaways through an online gaming platform she connects to, figured out live streaming on her own, and has the new career ambition of becoming an animator.  At school she completes worksheets and is bored.

I know lots of educators who understand the importance of continuing to challenge themselves, professionally, and continue to evolve their instructional strategies and push themselves to keep learning.  Everyone a part of the #IMMOOC is among that group, too.  However, I feel like those groups of people are working in isolation- unsupported by administration or their "department", etc.  It can get depressing to think about the fact that too many educators are still comfortable with status quo and/or unable to change their circumstances or practices due to political reasons, lack of desire, or something else.

That's why I'm so thankful for opportunities such as the #IMMOOC and #TOSAchat on Mondays, for example, so that I'm continuing to learn and gain inspiration from a professional learning network who's not going to be derailed from moving toward the ideal endgame- working to create learning environments for our students that are relevant and engaging- that prepare them for their post-secondary paths.  Sometimes the wheels of progress move much more slowly than I'd like, and sometimes not everyone gets on board with what I think is important or not important in education.  But I know that being innovative in education- particularly instructional practices- is appropriate for educators at any stage of the game, no matter where they fall on the pedagogical spectrum.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

#IMMOOC Why is “innovation” so crucial in education? What impact will it have on our students and ourselves long term?

I think in order to answer these questions, we must first define what innovation and education mean.  I think of innovation as something exciting- something that eliminates the old and tired.  I think innovation involves a think-outside-the-box mindset and the willingness to take risks.  So, I ask myself, "Do I not wish that for students in our schools?"  If I'm waving a magic wand, then yes- I want schools to be rid of the old and tired, and I want educational experiences to foster creative thinking and confidence in risk-taking.  I want students to know above all, that due to their own critical thinking skills, they can problem solve their way out of any situation, and therefore, feel safe in taking risks.

Education has to revolve around the #1 priority of preparing our students to live in the world beyond high school.  Whether it's a college or career path, our students need essential skills to be successful, including the ability to communicate, create, critically think, and collaborate with others.  Those skills facilitate the ability to innovate- and I think that those skills don't always just come naturally to every person.

Our school system needs to teach those skills to every student.  Our schools need to model what those skills look like and provide strategies to students with opportunities to practice under an educator who's providing coaching and guidance and allowing for divergent thinking with multiple right answers.  We can't keep educating our kids of today with methods and practices from the past that are no longer relevant.  Things evolve.  Things change.

I think innovation in lesson design and delivery is especially crucial in order to have a prayer of meeting our students where they are.  Students of today are different.  Their brains have had different exposure to technological advancements than students of days past.  Different connections are made, neurologically, and with that comes different ways of thinking and different expectations and hopes from students regarding what "school" is.  Many of today's students want to "do school" like they "do life"- fast-paced, interacting with peers online, and accessing information from a device anytime they want

Schools are always going to have the advanced kids who will succeed and excel in their classes despite the most boring (and outdated) lesson design and delivery. I think that innovation in education levels the playing field and allows everyone a way to win.  In the long term, that produces a greater pool of people who have better skills for dealing with future jobs and situations- a greater pool of people beyond "the top 10%".  Roughly half the high school students (9th-12th) of today came into the world in the early 21st century, yet are subjected to teaching styles- in some classes-from the previous century.  And they don't understand life before the Internet.  We all need to evolve what we're doing to be relevant to students, and we don't have to have it all figured out first in order to move forward.
#IMMOOC, #innovation, #education, @sherylgarman