Reflections at Fota Island
Here is a recording of my blog post. If you want to literally hear my voice during this post please do so.
What’s the big picture? As educators we need to ask ourselves this question. I’ve spent a week in Ireland with 213 educators from around the world. I’ve already been asked to share my key learnings. Honestly I’m not sure how to begin to share what I’ve taken in this week. Friendships, tech tips, the evolution of tech, new instructional ideas, new apps, new projects and of course, lots of photography guidance. But, what is the big idea I’m really taking away from this institute?
Praise Ma (@praisesifa) is a fellow Distinguished Educator and she was one of many who did presentations. I must mention that the caliber of presentations was superior to anything I’ve ever experienced. I learned a great deal from each presenter, however Praise’s session struck a cord with me.
I won’t give you the exact details of her presentations but her overarching question was worded in a way that challenged me.
Many teachers, administrators, publishers, consulting firms and others in the field of education use technology to do cool things. They use technology to create incredible presentations, sharpen their photography, communicate with others, network and instruct others. I’ve used technology to help teach students to read, to record their voices, to create digital media and artwork.
I believe in leveling the playing field for my students and I find ways to use technology to do so. The ADE accessibility team reinforced this, thankfully. Groups were encouraged and supported to create digital content that is closed captioned, available in many languages, options for increased font size and generally accessible to all. This is certainly a key message that will remain with me as I work to develop future content to share with others.
But the big idea for me…
Praise Ma was able to point out that technology can change the lives of our students, but she did more. She showed photos and videos of how technology and support changed the lives of some of the children in Rwanda. I was teary after her presentation. I also was very humbled. It made me think that perhaps I’m on a journey of doing great things but I haven’t really got there yet. I began reflecting and thinking that maybe some of us are looking at our technology integration at just the surface level. We are thinking of our immediate surroundings.
I teach in a small town and I believe I work very hard to create an even playing field for my students with special needs and those who are living in difficulty situations. It’s one of the reasons that throughout my career, I always return to teach in my town. It’s where my passion lies. However, Praise Ma asked, “Are we really using technology to it’s full potential?” She asked if we were reaching out and helping children around the world?
I have been working with my colleagues in our school to teach using a social justice idea. I’ve worked with teachers and students to understand that they are just one in the world and together we can make a difference. Praise Ma’s session made me think that perhaps I’m only using these great devices at the surface level and it’s time to step up my game. But what does that mean?
I’m not sure what my next steps are as a result of this new shift in thinking. I have strong beliefs that we need to help those in need within our own countries too. I know we have many remote communities within Canada that could benefit from educators reaching out to them. Hmm…where could this led?
I invite all of you to reflect on how you use technology. How will you leverage it? I would love to hear your thoughts.
If there are resources you think could help me explore this big idea further please comment.
The challenge is on!
Here is the link to Lovey’s blog post. Have a look at this Apple Distinguished Video. It was showed each morning and it united us in our vision. http://schreib-lounge-blog.ch/2012/07/21/apple-global-institute-cork-2012-takeaways/
I’ve received many tweets of resources. I’m starting a list here. If you have any other resources or assistance to offer please comment below.
Offer of assistance by @acampbell99 Andrew Campbell who offered to connect me with some 6 Nations contacts of his. He also discussed his work with Canadian Author Eric Walters @EricRWalters The link one of the blogs regarding the project Creation of Hope http://www.walkinghome2012.com/index.html
The Global Education Conference http://www.globaleducationconference.com/
Skype in the Classroom http://education.skype.com/