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Saturday, February 02, 2008

My Big Twelve: Dreams and Goals for 2008



a simulpost with TechLearning

As educators, if we could aggregate our personal goals, I believe that they would point to the trends in education that will shape 2008. As I looked at my goals, I've worked to predict the trends in education related to my "Big 12" goals for the year. We'll see at the end of the year how I fared.

1 - Publish My book

My Goal - I have ten friends who have been helping me complete my book about how to teach students to LEARN new software. It is a methodology developed because I got tired of my point and click teaching becoming outdated with every new software upgrade. In this Method, I teach students HOW to learn new software using several strategies. This book is completely written and halfway edited.

Prediction - I predict that more teachers (like myself) will begin collaboratively editing and publishing books on Lulu. I have had no less than 7 rejections for my book idea from mainstream publishers. My response: Dale Carnegie's book was rejected more than 10 times and is one of the best selling books. I believe in this book and what it teaches and it will get published!

How many of you have books that you want to write (or have already written.) Take that book, throw it up on a private wiki, let your friends edit. Then, pull it back into Word, edit it and upload it to lulu. Bypass the publishing companies who don't believe in your dream. I am.

I am and I think more educators are going to do this and we'll see a proliferation of teacher (and student written) books.

2- Promote Grassroots Efforts of Teachers

My Goal: Promote the classroom teacher. I have this platform for a reason and I will use it to help teachers connect. I resolve to resist the urge to become self-important and will remain content as a teacher in my classroom. I'm staying put as a teacher for another year, I just signed the letter of intent.

Arrogance and ego can be a curse and I will keep perspective that my blog has only a tiny fraction of readers that are educators... it is far to easy to become self-focused. I want to be teacher-focused. I want to share more about what I do BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY learn more from other teachers. It is not that the overarching debates aren't important but I've got a class to teach and sometimes these debates can become a distraction from my core purpose of teaching.

Prediction - I predict that the volume of collaborative projects this year will multiply exponentially in a way similar to the English fleet defeating the Spanish Armada. The smaller, more flexible educational organizations will create amazing projects while large districts and schools will continue to stifle teacherpreneurs under their own bureaucracy. (Every time I try to work with public schools, I am literally blocked by the Barracuda Firewalls. They hate me. So, I have to resort to alternate e-mails for the teachers I work with in public schools and at conferences.)

By the end of the year, I believe that large districts will begin to look at ways to incubate teacher innovation to facilitate global connections.

3- Promote the Evolution of Filtration
My Goal - As a person who manages a classroom and my own filter, I will continue to advocate Ad-Hoc filtration policies. Even with my own filter, it is sadly very Filter 1.0.

Prediction - Someone invents the filtration "killer app."

First -- EDUCATORS WE MUST BECOME VOCAL ABOUT THIS. Then, firewall manufacturers will begin having to listen to educators and not just lawyers. Some firewall company will create the "killer app" for educators that will allow filter management to become accessible and part of the work flow of a school.

IT directors are tired of fielding special requests. Teachers are tired of asking people in information technology when really, this is a curricular decision. This is an idea whose time has come.

(Imagine this, a teacher logs into the filter manager, requests a certain site unblocked during a certain class period, it is forwarded to the curriculum director, and then unblocked -- without IT's involvement. IT will just monitor and make sure abuse doesn't occur.)

(Or another scenario -- someone wants to collaborate with me and they are allowed to request and unblock my e-mail messages from going into the firewall.)

4 - Remember the Relationships
My Goal - Log into my e-mail three times a day and limit my online time to certain predictable times. My kids are only young once and I will enjoy the time with them.

Prediction - The Evolution of Professional Development
Some educators will resist the fact that educational blogs and podcasts ARE NOT available for them to access on school time. The increasing cannibalization of personal time for professional development is going to create a cry for #3 better filtration and #4 the evolution of professional development.

I spend approximately 3 hours per week (sometimes more) listening to podcasts, writing blogs, reflecting, and reading RSS. It makes me a better teacher. I believe that a teacher who connects in this way is perhaps more well educated than a person who takes a 10 hour class every two months!

As schools work to implement technologies, they are going to realize that collaborative content coaches are needed to work one on one with teachers and that professional development should be part of the weekly (if not daily) activities of teachers. Ongoing professional development methodologies must be worked through.

I also predict that more hybrid programs will emerge with educational networks making the connections prior to people meeting face to face so that a more useful learning experience will emerge. Teachers will continue to have to do some learning on their personal time, so PD will have to evolve to keep that in mind.

(And not to open a can of worms here, but if teachers are doing PD at home, couldn't they be allowed to exercise during the day! I believe companies with exercise at work programs will begin to receive health insurance benefits.. so it just might make sense.)


5 - To Connect Where I'm Disconnected
Goal - It is my personal goal to have a collaborative project with a classroom in Africa and one in South America at a minimum. Julie and I are reaching out to learn how we must modify experiences to link with lower bandwidth areas. (After that, I want to work with languages and figure out how to have a dynamic translation type project.)

Prediction - The breakthroughs that happen with underconnected areas will be done via cell phone and lower bandwidth services like twitter, wiffiti, and even e-mail enabled postings. Educators who want to connect in these areas will have to simplify and connect in ways that are not bandwidth-hogs. The principle of bandwidth arrogance (or whatever it is called) will become something that we discuss. (I define bandwidth arrogance as assuming that everyone else has the same high level of bandwidth as you.) We will look for multiple portals into the sites we create -- via not only web browser but also smart phones.

6 - To have fun and be inspired
My Goal - Sometimes the edublogosphere can be a frustrating place to be. I get so discouraged! Every time I post now, in the back of my mind I know that I'm going to offend someone out there! And you know what, that is life! I will do my best to be at peace, listen to the viewpoints of others, and by all means not to be just plain old cantankerous. So, I want to have more fun with this. I want to be inspired.

I will continue to look for people who not only educate me but inspire me AND make me laugh. I will also work to include inspiration and humor and learn how to be better at it on my blog.

Prediction - TEST SCORE MEASURES WILL EVOLVE! Students want to have fun and be inspired too! Life is tough and all work at school and tough lives at home (not to mention zero spiritual guidance that most have) combine to make pretty miserable people.

I predict that measures of school esprit de corps or "learning climate" will emerge to come alongside traditional test scores. As we look at the research, we will see that learning climate neutralizes the socioeconomic status of individuals and better shows if learning CAN happen at a school.

An increasing backlash of overtesting and parent concerns of their children's quality of life will be balanced against the need to improve education. I doubt that test scores will eVER be eliminated. That is not realistic. However, it will evolve. ( When will we ever learn that 100% of kids can't be in the 95th percentile! It doesn't work that way!)

7 - Reflection & Survey
My Goal - Every workshop I do that lasts more than an hour will have a pre-workshop survey. I will use the pre-survey to convey expectations as well as to "front load" the concepts I will be covering. I will KNOW my students. I will also promote reflection of both myself and my students. After every major module of teaching, I and my students will reflect on our class blogs. I will promote school wide reflection and reading.

Prediction - The unharnessed power of teacher and staff reflections will become the "secret weapon" of power administrators. The fear of the word "blog" will diminish as school wide private social networks become ways to share and facilitate learning. Likewise, as teachers move online en masse, courses on professional online behavior and digital citizenship for teachers will become more widespread.

8 - New Tools Hit Critical Mass

My Goal - I will not ever assume that "everyone knows" about the tools I am using when in fact they don't. If I do a workshop that lasts longer than an hour, I will do a pre-workshop survey (See #7) to understand the needs and knowledge levels of my "students." (Even if my students are teachers.) I will make surveying my students and everyone a part of my practice.

I want to be a person who "greases the skids" not an obstacle. (For insight on this term, see the Word Detective:

"The first skid rows were in the logging towns of the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s. Faced with the chore of dragging felled trees out of the forest to the mill, 19th century loggers built "skid roads" -- roads paved with "skids," usually railroad ties or heavy wooden planks. It didn't take the loggers long to discover that the logs were far easier to move down these roads if the "skids" were greased, and "grease the skids" became a popular metaphor to describe speeding up the process of removing something.")

I want to be a person who helps remove the obstacles to these tools so that other teachers can start seeing the benefits I see in my own classroom. I am still a relative newcomer to all of these things, having been using them just over two years so I see myself as a "poster child for the newcomer." I want to be someone who helps others.

Prediction - I believe that we are seeing increasing acceleration of adoption of the Web 2.0 technologies with blogs leading the way and with wikis coming in second. Telephones (and cell phones) will be used increasingly as schools figure out that they can be used in lieu of special podcast setups with sites like gcast.com.

Principals will figure out that they can easily podcast from their cell phone on the way home and watch out! We are experiencing the use of these tools to improve our LIVES. I also believe we're seeing an increasing number of teachers ready to reinvent their practice as they sense that students have changed and that they must too. Hold on, we're going to go faster.

What do you think? What do you predict for the future and what goals are you going to set to faciliate being part of that prediction.

9 - Web 3D
My Goal - Integrate 3D components to global collaborative projects in a way that is bandwidth sensitive. Several experts (Beth Ritter-Guth and Lee Baber) are actively talking to Julie and I about adding a 3D component to Flat Classroom. I'm not happy with Second life and the educational practices they have set up and want to look more into OpenSim as well.

My Prediction - Global 3D projects will begin to emerge in baby steps with a whole list of cultural issues that we'd never thought of emerging. (e.g. if a person's face must be covered in real life, must her avatar also be covered?)
We will continue to work out the issues and some examples will begin to emerge of great learning experiences in 3D virtual worlds. I don't predict mass adoption any time soon, but I do predict increasing experimentation among advanced technological thinkers and educators. (Science teachers will play with doing experiments in virtual worlds with equipment they cannot afford to purchase, and someone will figure out a way to create virtual literary and history worlds that can be subscribed to or visited by whole classrooms WITH their teacher.)

I also think that machinima and screen captures will increasingly wiggle their way into the digital storytelling toolbox.

10 - Putting it on film
My Goal - I am learning the RIGHT way to make movies from AFI's screen education program and several good books. There is a methology behind it! And as I'm delving into it, I'm seeing that it is an important compliment to essay writing. Movies require a very deep learning process and I want to move learning how to make movies correctly back to a younger age. Many of the problems I've had with moviemaking have been because I didn't know or follow the proper steps.

Prediction - I predict the proliferation of classroom movie contests and scholarship contests and that even some textbook companies will begin to dabble in aggregating the videos made by students using their textbook materials (to protect copyright if nothing else.) We'll see more classrooms using the movie as an alternative to a traditional report and teachers will struggle with the types of equipment to purchase and computer access will become an issue as students excited about the process want to work on weekends and after school.

11 - The rise of Educational Networks
My Goal - I will roll out the school wide educational network (which has been in beta since mid December) and continue to work on best practices in social networks as created for the Horizon Project and Flat Classroom.

Prediction -- One or two websites will get it Right -
Educators inundated with so many educational networks will begin to cull out networks that do not add meaning to their practice and several hubs of activity will begin to emerge for each educator. There will be a lot of "starting' and "joining" but not a lot of maintenance. The sites that emerge from this period of massive creation will become the major hubs of our educational practice in the future. Educators will tire of "moving" identities place to place. By the end of the year, I predict that someone will "get right" the practice of connecting teachers around the world and it will build a lot of followership among educators. The others will wither and die. The sites with REASON, PURPOSE, and maintenance will grow and dominate.

And when it all happens, textbook companies will wonder why they missed the opportunity.

12 - Open Source Education
My Goal - To increasingly involve my students as prostudents (producing, professional students) in the creation of online curriculum materials to teach others and cement learning. I want to document what we learn and involve them in the process of online content creation and effective transmission of ideas online.

Prediction - Frustrated teachers will start creating and using collaborative sources of information for their classrooms. Student input will require digital citizenship and literacy to become part of core knowledge that progressive schools begin to teach at the elementary level. The increasing use of online resources will leave textbook companies scrambling to create an online business model that works and allows multiple authors and retention of accurate information.

In Conclusion

So, here they are. Take these predictions for what they are: that of a classroom teacher trying to take the 30,000 foot view of things. And as for the predictions, who knows if they will come true, however, I can speak for my own goals... I've already begun work on all of them.

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