Learnography’s support for innovation in education means that we get to attend (and film) some incredible events. These conferences and speaking engagements bring together thought leaders throughout the sector, from across Canada, to talk about what matters most to them. When you get that many passionate people in a room, the excitement is palpable.
Such was the case in November when we joined Ontario’s education leaders for a two-day Institute on technology integration. The Institute was led by George Couros, a division principal from Edmonton who has earned considerable notoriety for his contentious approach toward teaching, learning, and leadership. A quick look at his blog reveals him to be a devoted advocate for digital portfolios, empathy, and social networking in the classroom. He believes that empowering students to share their perspectives with the wider world will give them a voice and give their education a purpose. How does he propose that we do this? Through technology, of course.
In a lightning-fast 30-minute morning session, George demonstrated 15 different tools that can save both teaching and prep time. Storify, Moourl, Google Forms, WordPress – each serves a specific role in an interconnected approach to teaching that projects student voices out into the world.
Brows furrowed as everyone struggled to keep up with the flurry of new applications. Many of these tools were less than a year old, and likely to be replaced in the coming year by something faster and better. This can put teachers at a disadvantage because children are predisposed to learn new technology faster. This means that the tech can’t be the focus of the lesson – it is merely the tool that facilitates learning by making the subject more engaging and interactive.
Many educators are wary of these tools because they have not been tested to the same extent as older methodologies, but George has little sympathy for this mentality. “Every principal should have an online presence,” he says. “That’s your job!” And he certainly walks the talk, with 69.2K followers on twitter and a TEDx talk with 10.6K views. He has engaged the wider world, and they are picking up what he’s putting down. Any 21st century teacher should see the power of this interconnectivity, and must be willing to learn the tools required to make it happen.
I was so moved after hearing George speak that I went over to take a selfie with him, and promised to share his message of technological obligation with other educators. And so here we are. Now tell me, what tools do you use to inspire engagement and collaboration in your classroom? There’s a lot that we could learn from each other.