Sunday, October 25, 2009

A day with Steve Hargadon

Wow! I've just spent a day with over 25 talented and deeply thoughtful BC educators in a Classroom 2.0 Live unconference led by Steve Hargadon. We started with introductions that took almost an hour but the themes and topics that people wanted to talk about emerged as people talked about where they live, what they teach, the challenges they face, and their level of expertise with what many of those of us have come to think of as common tools and resources.

As we each spoke, Steve sat at the front jotting ideas and themes down of a scrap of paper. He has a general shape of the day he builds in his CR2.0 wiki with the collaboration of the local contacts for each of these events. Before we took our first break he/we ammended that and then we plunged into a series of how to's and deeper discussions about teaching and learning in the 21st century. What emerged for me as the discussion progressed is the role that many in the room believe we has as a connective generation of teachers. We seem to feel we're the group that stands between the treasured values of the past ...

... and the exciting possibilities of the future.

Steve's overall goal for the day was to mirror the Classroom 2.0 experience for the people in the room. I think our was to find a collection of like-minded educators here in BC and begin to share what we've learned and developed with people who are close by instead of far off in the US or other parts of the world.

I have to say I was amazed at the imaginative initiatives being undertaken in schools less than an hour or two from where I live:
  • Brian whose Coquitlam school has decided to adopt an "open school" policy regarding students' use of personal devices for learning
  • Jan whose classroom blog is like a hub for all her students' individual blogs and whose class blogroll is a collection of the blogs of other classes in Canada and the world to which her students respond
  • Blair who has begun a Moodle to provide his grade 8 math students with access to resources 24/7
  • Bryan who has started a master Delicious list (organised by subject) for his entire district (all teachers can forward their bookmarks to him and contribute to a district tag cloud that is available to them vie the district website)
  • the district principle from outside the Lower Mainland who'd wanted to take back ideas to the teachers in his area and help them launch new projects.
  • several experienced teachers old enough to be thinking about retirement, but who had postponed it because they are so excited by all the new things they were trying and they can't leave just yet!
Steve did achieve his goal -- we were indeed a microcosm of the 25,000 strong Classroom 2.0, and we are looking forward to continuing our dialogue online and in person. But we also found that even in this world of wide reaching and nearly instant communication, there is something special achieved by being together in the same room where we can overhear each others' conversations, fluidly move from group to group, bounce ideas around the group as a whole, and catch the infectious energy that is often hard to sustain when it's just you and your computer alone in a room reaching out and wondering if anyone out there's listening. Steve may feel that all of this can be accomplished just as well from a distance, but I'm still not sure.

I do know that it was a wonderful day. By the end of the day we had reaffirmed for ourselves that as a profession educators are moving away from being conveyors of information towards becoming community organisers and that we have tremendous power as leaders and role models to influence the deeper uses to which our students will put the tools they take to so naturally and information they can find so quickly. Web 2.0 is giving us a chance to claim a wonderful vocation for ourselves as teachers -- that of leaders, creators of educational experiences the students will remember even as adults, and the enlargers of minds.

As Jan said -- the power is in the connection, and it certainly was on Saturday in Room 3300.

1 comment:

  1. And there was definitely power in that awesome sandwich lunch you prepared! Thanks so much for all the help!