A Visit from Alan November
I’ve been a member of the Alan November fan club for many years! I was fortunate enough to be in attendance yesterday when Alan November delivered a keynote at The Seventeenth National Congress on Rural Education. My luck only continued when I joined Mr. November and representatives from SETA for a facilitated discussion regarding a new strategic direction for technology in the province of Saskatchewan. While it isn’t my place to share specific details of the plan or Mr. November’s recommendations, I do want to comment briefly on some of his ideas that really resonate with me and that I’m willing to explore more closely in my role as instructional consultant.
- Building capacity through the use of students as mentors. The idea here is that students could be trained as technology guides and then go back to support or train teachers in the classroom. This is the second time I’ve heard this idea recently. My initial reaction was to question whether or not students could possibly be trained in such a manner that would result in them gaining the skills and knowledge required to assist a teacher with what is really quite a complicated task. Effectively integrating technology into teaching and learning is after all not an easy task at all. There are intimate connections between technology and learning that can only be understood after significant training and practice. After mulling it over, however, I am willing to select a few key technologies and a few students to at least attempt this idea to see what kind of results I will get back. Mr. November did provide one resource that might help me out in doing this: Generation YES. Oh, and by the way, where is the voice of our students in your technology plan?
- Every teacher and student needs to have a global voice and each classroom should become a hub for global publishing. Agreed! I’ve known this for sometime and I encourage my own children to do the same outside of school as well. I would like to say that the use of digital technologies to publish student work is widespread in my division; however, a visit to a some school websites would clearly prove me wrong. Where and why are we hiding all the world-class, creative, and mind-blowing learning that is going on in our schools? I do believe we have the means required to publish these masterpieces and I don’t see why we aren’t doing more of it. I’m going make a concerted effort to model how easy publishing online can be using many user-friendly tools. These same tools can be and should be used to give our students a global voice, so I’d be hitting two birds with one stone
- The importance of web literacy. According to Mr. November, we should be focusing less on technology and more on information when contemplating a strategic plan for learning in this province. Point well-taken, and I’m left contemplating how I’m going to go about supporting teachers to gain the knowledge and skills required to help students learn critical thinking skills for web literacy. There is no shortage in resources to which I can turn here. In fact, I will likely start with Mr. November’s book Web Literacy for Educators.