Monday, June 30, 2014

ISTE 2014 Day 3: What should we be doing here?

Many educators are using approaches such as blended and flipped learning to maximize instructional time and increase opportunities for learners to interact with content, with the instructor, and with one another. At the heart of this movement is this question: What is the best use of classroom time? 

If you feel that students should be engaged with tackling authentic challenges during class time, collaborating with one another, and purposefully using available resources, then you may agree that technology can allow you to maximize learning opportunities by putting more static teaching and learning tasks online or moving them outside of the regular school day.

So what I'm wondering today is this: If we believe that student learning happens in interactive, collaborative, and authentic environments, why don't we apply that same thinking to professional learning? We are still learners, after all.

With the abundance of technology we have available for professional learning (just take a look around you at ISTE 2014), we have tremendous opportunities to put static professional learning tasks and resources online and make better use of the time we spend together.

This week, there are roughly 20,000 educators in one building with similar passions and purposes. How often does that happen? How are we using our time, and is that the best use of this time? I see many missed opportunities in the way we could be structuring our professional learning experiences and engaging with one another (here at ISTE 2014 and beyond the conference).

I've talked to several attendees throughout the conference about their best conference experiences, and most them have expressed that the interactive workshops, playgrounds, and poster sessions have been their most amazing learning experiences. Why? Because they were given opportunities to talk with other educators, explore resources, and apply ideas and resources to their own contexts. Kudos to presenters like the Iron Chef crew who are giving conference attendees opportunities to interact with each other and tackle difficult challenges.

P.S. I'm sitting in a lecture session right now as I write this post because I am completely checked out mentally. At ISTE 2015, I will be more purposeful about attending sessions that are explicitly interactive and authentic. I also hope that conference planners will design more opportunities for attendees to engage and play.

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