It is now a month after BLC08 and a recent comment has stirred up some thoughts that sent me back to a blog draft I wrote months ago. On Defragging my brain after BLC08, Angela Kerns mentioned that of my nine ‘take-aways’, #3 and #4 resonated with her:
3. Face-to-face meetings with your network are powerful… very powerful.
What is most amazing about BLC08 is that these two points are still resonating with me. Liz B. Davis, Lisa Thumann, and Laura Deisley adopted Dave Sands and I, and took us under their wings. Many of the discussions we had were of a quality that left me wishing that I had recorded them! Thanks to these ladies, I connected with many people that were in my network, but had never met, and I also met amazing people who are now part of my network.
But these learning conversations didn’t happen in the presentations at the conference. It was the conversations we had outside of the sessions that were really incredible.
Liz lived very near our hotel and so a car ride, or a chat walking her home would become an in depth conversation about strategies to promote technology integration or a debate about comfort levels with having students as social networking friends. (O.K., I’ll admit an embarrassing story here just for a laugh… as Dave and I walked Liz home on the second night, I walked into a pole while texting my wife… the rim of my baseball cap saved me from potential head trauma. Mental note: don’t walk and text in the dark!)
The conversations were not all heavy, Lisa and I razzed each other on the issue of ‘to Plurk or not to Plurk’, and Joyce Valenza always made sure everyone was having fun even when sharing our thoughts on education. But it seemed that very often the conversations, whether light, frivolous or funny, always went back to education.
Even at the dinner cruise social, (that Dave, Donna DesRoches and I almost missed after an ‘Amazing Race’ style route), it seemed that the learning continued:
On the boat: Clarence Fisher wanted to know the name of a fort we cruised by, but no-one could help him until Alice Barr handed over her iphone. Clarence used this experience in his presentation the following day to exemplify how information is abundant now and we need to go beyond rote memorization in what we teach.
On the bus ride back to the hotel: I had an in-depth conversation with Pegggy Sheehy about avatar gender. I never considered that I would ever choose a female avatar for myself until this conversation… biases I didn’t even know I had were challenged!
At the hotel restaurant: Darren Kuropatwa, Laura and I took a little idea I had about a Twitter version of 366 Photos and developed it into what would be a great project. Hopefully we will expand on it in the fall and maybe launch for the month of February.
Everywhere we turned we were having learning conversations. This seems to happen when you surround yourself with amazing people… people who are catalysts and agents of change.
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With each person I mentioned above, I linked to their blogs. Each of those blogs are in their own way agents of change… they are inspired by teachers and learners wanting more out of ‘institutional’ education. They are not the works of dreamers dreaming, but rather the work of catalysts reflecting, experimenting, learning, questioning, designing, succeeding and failing, and yes dreaming too.
What makes this so meaningful though, is the connections we make to each other, and the learning we gain from linking, meeting, and creating opportunities for learning conversations to happen.
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Are you an agent of change? Are you a catalyst that makes things happen? Do you create opportunities for collaboration? Do you initiate and inspire learning conversations?
Keeping education meaningful and relevant is an ongoing process of evolution or emergence. The process requires us to learn and to change too. We need to evolve. We need to learn, encourage learning, and allow learning to emerge.
In Science change occurs through hybridization or mutation… ideas go through this too. Institutional education doesn’t do this on its’ own.
In Science catalysts are often used in tandem. Different agents combine to make a chemical reaction happen faster. Catalysts of change work well together too. We learn from each other and interact more meaningfully from the learning of others. Often we need feedback loops to help us make sure we are making the right things happen… after all, change can be both for the better or the worse.
But if there is one thing I can be certain of, change needs to happen. Students today are interacting and engaging with the world in ways that would have seemed like science fiction to us.
If we are not agents of change then we are agents of boredom and mediocrity, the keepers of the status quo…. static… in stasis.
Be a catalyst that inspires learning.
Be an agent of change!
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Photo of Change Agents, after the BLC08 boat cruise
by Joyce Valenza on flickr