When I set out on this process of having a blog, only a couple of months ago, I have to say I was a skeptic. I knew that I ought to have better awareness of these technical things – not then even knowing the phrase social media. My move to action was mainly because I was shamed by Ewan McIntosh at a conference pointing out that being technology illiterate limited the role you could take in designing effective education processes and enabling young people to be well placed in the contemporary world. I’m not one to naively jump on board when it comes to technology, after all I don’t even have a TV!, but this was tempting…..
That keynote was four days before a deadline to apply for a regional Creative Partnerships learning bursary and before I knew it I had put the two together and was off – with funding to enable Ewan to hold my hand along the way. What had seduced me into thinking it might all be a good thing was Ewan talking about using this ‘stuff’ effectively, to support what you wanted to do and save time. Now that was a radically different take for me – from the outside it looked like a time sink not a time release.
So anyway out I set on this journey, with a list of activities set by Ewan and the promise of continuing support. As far as I thought we were in the set up phase – building a blog. No-one was going to be reading the blog as they wouldn’t know it was there and I dreamed of the benefits coming by the time we were a year in and this ‘learning network’ was up and running. How wrong!
What I have been amazed by is how quickly the process has been useful. In trying to understand blogs better I read some other people’s in the spheres I’m interested in – and immediately some of those posts were useable in school project meetings, for instance:
- In a project planning meeting a teacher spoke excitedly of “that place where pupils build things, they built a rollercoaster” I knew she was talking about Gever Tulley’s work at Tinkering School – because I’d be reading about it only the night before. A small thing – but the joint understanding we had meant we could travel far quicker in planning discussions and the trust she had in me sharing her vision was invaluable.
- Sharing school and pupil websites informed discussions with both a primary and secondary school about ways of capturing learning from a project – and in a format that encouraged parents engagement. With the potential of posts and videos being sent directly to parents e-mails and facebook accounts. Seeing other schools doing some of it made it feel much more possible for these schools. Showing them http://www.blogbooker.com (found thanks to a post in Derek’s blog re-posting Richard Byrne’s slideshow) helped them think about ways blogs could still be evidenced in pupil’s portfolios.
- Having followed a link to Professor Sugata Mitra’s TED talk I discussed with a Headteacher about to equip his school with IT the value of group activity around computers rather than one computer per child – he shared the talk with his staff and they are considering buying better equipment but less of it to support group dynamics within child-led learning.
That is only the tip of a small but definitely present iceberg…And then there is the excitement of knowing what people you respect are reading – and reading it yourself. I didn’t expect to feel that sense of connection, or that people would inspire me so easily – simply being open with what they are curious about. Twitter has way more going for it than I would have thought – once I’d given myself permission to be okay with not having to read everything!
It is still very early days, I have my next list of ‘McIntosh tasks’ to take me forward. But I’m starting to let people know the blog is here and to get into conversations on other blogs, twitter and the like – moving out of the comfort zone of observer to participator. I’ve set up google reader to help monitor RSS feeds and the share the juiciest bits. I’m looking to build a team of people to blog with me, and – well heaps more.
I’m even starting to talk about my learning and advocate the value of what I’m doing. The first session is tomorrow to colleagues at a Creative Partnerships meeting in the Tees Valley, and then next month I’m doing the same for Hull CP colleagues – who would have thought it.
Still no TV though – not in a hurry to change that one!