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Philosophical Meanderings

Connected Teaching Builds New Competencies and Expertise

When I started thinking about this post, I was kicking around the question “Can one be a ‘digital age teacher’ if s/he is not a ‘digital age learner’ first?”  Then, thinking of the shift from teaching to learning, I rephrased it to “Can a teacher support ‘digital age learning’ if s/he is not a ‘digital age learner’?”  Then, I thought about the terminology I was using and went back through a series of PDFs I have collected in the past decade or so and found the terms “digital age” teaching/learning/teacher/learner used in quite a few of them.  Somehow, though, the crux of what I was thinking wasn’t supported by the words I was finding.

So, I went to the National Education Technology Plan for language where I found an interesting graphic  labeledConnected Teaching Graphic “Figure 3. Connected Teaching Builds New Competencies and Expertise”.  While I believe the declaration that “Connected Teaching Builds New Competencies and Expertise,” this graphic doesn’t quite represent the meat behind the declaration.

So, I kept looking.  I found another graphic that is equally interesting.  That’s the graphic that goes with the caption “Figure 1. A Model of Learning, Powered by Technology”.  In this graphic, the student is in the center, not the teacher.  What is missing is the graphic that shows the true amplification we all experience by being contributing members of a learning network.  Truth be told, there is no such thing as “a learning network” because of the networking across networks.

And, if this amplification exists for students and teachers, what about administrators?  Is it true that “Connected Leading Builds New Competencies and Expertise”?  What about “disconnected leading”?  Is that even possible or is it an oxymoron?

I have a hypothesis that the best way to ensure “transfer in to practice” for “new competencies and expertise” is to ensure the safety and power of a network.  If this hypothesis is true, what implications are there for “professional development”?

About beckyfisher73

DEN Star Educator, NTTI Master Teacher, Director of Educational Technology and Professional Development, former HS math teacher, avid RVer, baseball fan. ____________________________________________________ Becky received a BA and MAT in Physics from the University of Virginia while working as a FORTRAN programmer for the University's Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics. After assisting in an NSF-funded summer institute for Physics teachers, she committed to a career in public education. Over two decades later, she has been a classroom teacher, instructional technology specialist, and central office leader working diligently to change the landscape of public education by ensuring choices are made as close to the learner as possible!


4 thoughts on “Connected Teaching Builds New Competencies and Expertise

  1. Becky, I feel like this whole notion is what has been consuming my thoughts lately. I’m gearing up to do more p.d. with principals. Trying to help them form a mental structure for how to enable and facilitate the “bigger picture” of p.d. with their teachers is much harder than I thought. It’s easy for me to show them a “how to” about Twitter, and say how much I learn and grow. It’s so much harder to get them to a point that they really conceptualize the connected learning and teaching visual. Part of my own growth, I think, is learning how to model that and helping them visualize it, but also helping them get going with setting up a structure and getting into a groove!
    Thanks for making me ponder this even more.

    Posted by Chris O'Neal | February 1, 2011, 8:09 pm
  2. Becky, I like how the graphics show how a world full of information surrounds us and how we can access it through technology and relationships, as well as through our senses.

    I’d like to see a graphic in the plan that takes learning a step further into action – are there any? We see how information and communications reach the learner; how does the learner impact and contribute to his or her network and community? Is the end of the plan – or any of our plans – more efficient delivery of content and expertise to the learner, or more efficient delivery of the learner’s actions to his or her world?

    How do we visualize and share a graphic that shows the interdependence of learning and action, virtually and F2F? (I kind of dig this School 2.0 initiative poster.)

    What is the so what of digital learning?

    I think it’s probably in the safety and power of the network, as you say. How can learners work together to create safe and powerful communities online, at school, and in their neighborhoods?

    How many policies are about that transfer of practice, and how do we write more of them?

    Can one be a digital age learner without being a school or community activist?

    Thanks for the spark,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | February 1, 2011, 9:34 pm
  3. Becky, You teach what you are, right? You teach what you live? So if you are an old-fashioned, non- connected, non-digitally-learning teacher, then that is what students will experience in the classroom.

    Same for school leaders. You lead what you are, what you are learning about, what the edges of your practice are. The implication for PD, it seems to me, is that teachers and leaders themselves have to get involved in powerful personal learning experiences digitally, first. It has to mean something to them, to change them and transform them, before they can hope to teach about it, with it–for it to be anything more than an add on.

    Personal use of devices. Isn’t that what we were talking about on Saturday? Transformation begins with the personal, transformation of practice begins with changes in personal meaning?

    Posted by Kirsten Olson | February 1, 2011, 10:54 pm


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