Open Letter to an Education System Leader

Mr __________,

 

Our community appreciates your attendance at our awards ceremony at such a busy time of the year.

 

While you are here, I was hoping to take the opportunity to present an outline of an idea that is both representative of the paradigm shift in education but also an example of how our organisation can:

 

  1. revitalise teacher professional learning by developing the paradigm of having a  Personal Learning Network (PLN)
  2. transform student learning by developing the concept of having a Personal Learning Environment (PLE).

 I was not sure if the opportunity to chat would arise, so this short note is an attempt to provide an overview.

 

In such a large organisation, it is challenging and often very ineffective to have a top down model that mandates how and where staff should develop their skills. However, without some kind of new paradigm or schema, we cannot move forward. We need to provide a framework that is cohesive, adaptable and collaborative to empower both students and staff. It needs to be simple, yet a model that could encompass unfolding societal paradigms over a long period and be developed to the highest levels of sophistication.

 

Without going in to detail, teachers developing PLNs would enable most to be more likely understand the PLEs their students must construct to take advantage of our hyper-connected world. This blended learning, using powerful online and collaborative tools, needs to be developed, modelled and be a paradigm that is facilitated formally as an official policy position. This needed to be completed yesterday.

 

If we facilitated a model that emphasised each professional teacher developing their understanding and skills on how to create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) using Web 2.0 tools along with traditional notions of professional development (professional associations, regional networks, school-based TPL), it is possible that a quantum leap forward in how students were taught and learn, may take place.

 

If we developed a model that emphasised each student having a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) and facilitated staff understanding of how this could be undertaken, learning outcomes would not only be enhanced but potentially, teachers and students could adapt more readily to technological change due to the development of this most flexible of models.

 

 Connectivism (proposed by George Siemens), is an educational philosophy or, perhaps more accurately, a pedagogical view updating previous theories, especially Constructivism, for the digital age.  Siemens says, “Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical.”

 

These two Connectivist concepts – PLNs and PLEs – can co-exist regardless of syllabus development and technological change. The challenge is to ensure that staff and students have the concept and actively work on developing their networks and environments. This has suddenly become possible as laptops and wireless connectivity becomes a reality in our schools during 2009.

 

Your advocacy of Covey’s advice that we all need to, ‘sharpen the saw’ suggests that you may already be exploring the suggestions I am writing about, or be interested. If so, I look forward to continuing my participation and leadership in this new paradigm more formally. I would appreciate any suggestions re: colleagues who could assist me personally to develop networks of folks with similar interests and professional inclinations. I am especially interested in developing these ideas in my local region. We really do need to sharpen the saw.

 

 Not so ironically, this brief letter was the least sensible form for me to present these ideas to you as I constantly wanted to hyperlink and embed video explanation.

 

Perhaps we could share a conversation online.

 

 

Regards,

 

Darcy 

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7 Comments

  1. Mate, as you were posting this I was posting my whinge and thinking how PLN really are wa way to go… must be telepathic.

    I think some of Siemens stuff is nothing new really and not quite thought through and critiqued yet (see Bill Kerr and his take on it) but it is a step in an interesting and hopefully fruitfull direction we seem to look out as one.

    THanks for the graphic (bottleneck, love it) and for this letter.

    Here comes Darcy doing his 40ft leap!

    Cheers

    Tomaz
    PS Dunno about Eddies. Got my family and a couple of staff to give me a tick but after that who knows. Important to get stuff of my jammed brain though – a reward/award in itself!

  2. darcymoore:

    Thanks for posting Tomaz.

    PLNs are the way to go and I keep thinking about the dual benefit of this creating understanding of the personalised learning that students need (and how it is possible to guide them in this endeavour). Once a teacher is engaged with blended learning – and sees the usefulness – more students will benefit.

    Policy development takes so long. I’ll email you a doco published 12 months ago that looks at what ‘students say’ about how they like to learn. ATM, it is just that, a doco unread and largely unacted on.

    I think institutions need more circuit-breakers and we need to respect hierachy and authority by honestly providing reflection and feedback (not public deference and private moaning).

  3. TonySearl:

    Darcy
    Was having this exact conversation with our Principal yesterday. He is trying very hard to understand and your letter will help me articulate the imporatnce of PLN and PLE’s more clearly. Its my numero uno TPL goal in 2009, build a stronger, hopefully more DET NSW, orientated PLN. An attempt to thank my PLN is here http://tinyurl.com/5bsuv6 vote early vote often, and be a bit silly.
    To you and your family, have a great Christmas Darcy

  4. whoops sorry about that can you edit url for me Darcy?

  5. darcymoore:

    Thanks Tony. Hope the letter helps. Can we get your Boss on Twitter?

    I edited your URL and it now works.

    Happy Christmas to you and yours too. Have a great break!

  6. Bree:

    After reading this I feel similar to when I first heard about the internet. The infinate possibilities… Oh how frustrating that it is all not happening now, yesterday. Wonderful.

  7. Troy:

    ‘Once a teacher is engaged with blended learning…’ and sometimes I think all it takes it one teacher to begin and say come along for the ride, let’s see where this will take us, instead of repeating the same systems and processes.

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