Yesterday I had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion at our staff meeting about our school Intranet. For the past two years we have been experimenting with a password protected webspace built on WordPress MU that we call the ‘Intranet’ and this discussion was a chance to gather feedback on what was working well and what we needed to change. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to frame this discussion because in my mind this wasn’t just a discussion about our website, but the beginning of (hopefully) many discussions about the changes we as a school need to make in order to be effectively leveraging new information technologies for learning. I really enjoyed the discussion (we have a great staff!) and got lots of good feedback and ideas were gathered in the shared Google Doc that we used for note taking.
To place the discussion in context I chose two videos to show the staff. The first one is this short clip of Dave Meister (@phsprincipal) reflecting on how technology is changing society and the need for schools to engage in “real true systemic change” and not just “play in the margins”.
I really like this clip because I think it gets to the heart of a lot of conversations around change; they tend to stay focussed in the margins because the conversations are safer and entail less risk on the part of the participants. But if we are ever to move towards real systemic change then we also have to have the uncomfortable conversations, while respecting that everyone is going to have different comfort levels with change.
The second video I showed them was made by Brad Ovenell-Carter (@Braddo) and I’ve watched it over a dozen times both because it is highly entertaining and because it contains a great metaphor for how technology should be used in the classroom. Brad borrows an idea from Steve Jobs and suggests that we should be looking as technology as a ‘power multiplier’, as a ‘bicycle for the mind’.
My goal in showing this video was to try and steer the conversation away from thinking about the technology first (in this case our website) and instead thinking about what we could be doing with the technology.
In both cases I’m not sure whether I actually managed to get my message across, but we certainly had a good conversation and I am looking forward to more.