I am a North Struggling to Go East.

At the beginning of each year, our school reviews the different personality types in order to better understand how and why our colleagues work the way they do. North people are quick starters who adjust their plans along the way; West people are detail oriented; East people think about the big picture before they start planning; and South people concern themselves with feelings and want everyone’s ideas to be heard.

The East way of thinking is the most difficult for me and ironically, in my new position as a technology integrationist, the most essential. My mission this year is to help my school revision our technology usage and ramp up our innovative teaching and learning practices. The deadline to having this ‘plan’ on paper is coming up and I have been struggling to write it. I know what it looks like and I know why we should do it, but writing up a detailed, date specific, sustainable plan is a whole other beast. I’d much rather just get started and fill in the blanks as we go – see, total North! However the thinking around constructivism and connectivism this week has helped to inform my ‘big picture’ thinking and vision-plan writing.

Being a ‘specialist’ this year and out of my comfort zone, I feel more like a learner than a teacher. Of course, I have still been teaching many things to students and teachers about using technology, but most of my time and efforts have been spent learning about theories that worked for me as a teacher and now as a student.

The readings and understandings this week remind me of the Chinese proverb that says:

Tell me and I’ll forget

Show me and I’ll remember

Involve me and I’ll understand

In my mind connectivism is an extension of constructivism and both play a huge part in the success of the 21st century learner. If “constructivism suggests that learners create knowledge as they attempt to understand their experiences” (Driscoll, 2000, p.376; as cited by Siemens, 2005), then learning must be social and attached to prior knowledge. Connectivism is the act of developing ourselves as connected learners and understanding how to learn across the ‘nodes’ while synthesizing the information to meet our learning goals. Therefor the perfect storm would be for an educator to combine both theories in a learning situation where the student was engaged in a creative experience and activity that was shared and learned about by being connected to an online community. As Eric Sheninger’s writes about in his book, Digital Leadership, these students would also be intrinsically motivated because they are solving real world, relevant problems while connected to a community with the same goal.

Below is a useful diagram I saw in Sheninger’s, Digital Leadership, (found on Te@chThought.com) that encompasses the concepts I’ve learned about in this week’s readings.  It’s also provided me with a visual checklist to help guide me through the task of writing our school’s technology re-visioning plan.

Churches, 2008

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