Thursday, July 18, 2013

Run Your Own Technology Race

Ten years ago, I ran in my first half-marathon. Some friends at work and I had decided in August that we would run in the Mercedes Half-Marathon the next February, so we started our walking program and progressed to running. To prepare for that upcoming marathon, we ran in a 5K (3.1 miles) in October. I still remember the nervousness I felt. I had to decide what to wear, find the registration tent, get my race number... and that was all before the race even started! 

There were a lot of people just grouped together at the starting line. When I started with the crowd, we took off from the starting line with a bang. There were people in front of me and people behind me... there were runners who passed me during the race and runners who had started fast and I had caught up to and passed. What I learned from that race has helped me in other races that I have run, including those in life: Run Your Own Race.

It's tempting to start too fast, to feel like you have to keep up with the runners in front, not to let others pass you... but you have to run the best race that you can run. If you start too fast, your legs, lungs, and spirit can give out before you get to the finish line.

I see this sometimes with technology use in education. We hear about someone else using a particular app or website or program, and we think we need to use it, too. We can get hit with overwhelm if we try to learn everything there is to know about social media, technology in education, apps, programs... ad nauseum. 

It's important that we each run our own races. We "train" (practice tech use), we get "faster" or run "longer" (learn more resources, get better with tech), and we feel a sense of accomplishment for what we have done. 

In what other areas can you Run Your Own Race?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Where Good Ideas Come From... My Takeaways from Steven Johnson's Talk

Recently I was part of a presentation team at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference. This blog post is part of a series of reflections from the conference.

It's been a couple of weeks since returning home from ISTE in San Antonio, and I'm still reflecting on all that I heard and saw. I love learning during the summer because I have the time to reflect and ponder and process, something that gets put on the back burner during the busy-ness of the school year. 

I was interested to hear the keynote address by Steven Johnson.  He's a thought leader in the world of technology. I'm an idea collector. And an idea generator. I wanted to hear from him where good ideas come from.

Here are my takeways...

An idea comes out of other ideas that are re-positioned and re-configured. It's the connectedness of ideas that lead to the most disruptive, innovate ideas. 
     How am I connecting my ideas together?

There must be a medium to connect the ideas. In the past, there were liquid networks where people would meet to discuss ideas over coffee. Commonplace books were used as a way to record ideas, facts, quotes, etc. all in one place.
     Am I utilizing my liquid network (social media) to make valuable                           connections to others' ideas?
     How can I organize and keep my ideas all in one place?

Breakthrough ideas start out as a hunch. They can stay in this state for months or even years. They have to connect to other ideas, other people's hunches, before the breakthrough happens. 
     Am I being patient, looking for ways to connect my ideas to others?

It's important to diversify, not just specialize. Find way to connect with people who have different ideas. Connections must be made across disciplines. 
     With whom am I connecting, in order to hear their ideas?

"Chance favors the connected mind." -Steven Johnson

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

ISTE13: Nodes, Networks, and the Future of Education

Recently I was part of a presentation team at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference. This blog post is a first in a series of reflections from the conference. 

While at the conference, I heard the term node several times throughout presentations. In a network, a node is a connection point. It's anything connected to that network. 

The term stuck in my mind not because it was a new term for me, but because it was the first time I had heard it used in the world of education. It represents the shift to education in a global society, rather than teaching and learning in an isolated school or classroom.

Jane McGonigal mentioned nodes in her opening keynote about gamification in educationShe said, 

"There are 1 billion gamers in the world. Time to use the network to invent the future of education."

She also shared this slide during her presentation:

Do we have time to be a part of a network and do everything else we have to do? How do we accomplish this along with everything else we have to do as educators? 

First, we don't need to think of it as an add-on. Educators have always been a part of a network, whether it was within a school, a special-interest group, or a state/national association. Our methods of connecting now are different than they used to be, and they are more far-reaching. Instead of sitting in the faculty lounge or meeting up for coffee, we can connect via Twitter, Skype, a Google Hangout, or more. Technology makes it possible to connect innovative educators, share resources and ideas, and push us out of our comfort zones. 

Second, students are part of the network. It's no longer an information hierarchy, with the teacher as the distributor of information. Students have access to content and instruction from around the world. Technology allows our students to connect with other students across the globe, access experts in the field, learn about different cultures, and obtain "content" at will.

Additionally, other stakeholders are part of the network. Community members, business owners, parents, guardians are all part of the new learning sphere. Technology changes the structure from being vertically aligned to one of horizontal interconnectedness. Tapping into the creative ideas and knowledge base of the individuals in the network has never been easier, and it has the potential to transform education as we know it. 

Do we have time NOT to be connected?