Monday, 31 October 2011

It’s All About the Connections!

Great meeting of the F2F Network today, a group of like-minded educators who meet face to face every few months to explore personal use of technology and how we can best use it. After blogging for a few months, I shared my frustration at not being able to commit to more regular entries. Others are at different points in their exploration of social media, some much further down the path, some still pondering how they want to put it to use. It was an “aha” moment for me when the point was made that we first have to decide what the purpose of technology is for us. I know that my main purpose of blogging is to communicate with staff and parents about what I consider to be important learning opportunities. I would also like to somehow knit together my role as principal with my other professional role as I transition to being a counselor in private practice at the end of this school year. I hope to connect with others who seek to understand matters of the heart as well as the intellect.

An important part of our conversation tonight was around how we use technology to connect. As Li and Bernoff (Groundswell, 2011) put it “concentrate on the relationship, not the technologies.” (p. 18) It’s about creating a community of others who are interested in exploring the same ideas as you are. 

I must confess to being a little reluctant to embrace social media, as I worry about looking, or I should say, sounding silly. I also worry about taking time from connecting with friends and family through more traditional means. Time is always an issue; I don’t want to lose out on valuable opportunities to connect through face to face meetings, phone, personal email, etc. I worry about becoming addicted to the computer, and not keeping up with my many other interests. On the other hand, I am convinced that there is much power behind social media, and I don’t want to miss out on the chance to learn alongside my friends. I have several friends both professional and private who are blogging and tweeting. I definitely feel more connected to them when I read their blogs and tweets.  I enjoy reading about other people’s learning adventures, and the personal growth that they are experiencing. 

So here I am, dipping another toe in.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Attending a Conference... in my Pyjamas!

Yesterday, I attended a three hour conference with Dr. Gordon Neufeld in my pyjamas. I was able to get up and use the washroom when I wanted without disturbing others, get myself a fresh cup of tea, and make my bed and unload the dishwasher during the break! I didn’t have to worry about finding parking and taking the extra time to commute into the city. I felt connected to Dr. Neufeld and that my presence was acknowledged and valued.

This was accomplished through Adobe Connect, which allows the presenter to use Skype to be seen and heard by the participants. It also allowed Dr. Neufeld to include slides for us to follow along as he talked, and a lively discussion to take place throughout the presentation.  Participants were able to ask questions through a chat box and could indicate if they wanted their audio turned on to enable a voice discussion. 

I am continually intrigued by the power of technology in our lives. As both a school principal and a counselor in private practice, I am intrigued by how we might apply this power to learning and counselling. I wonder what it would take to enable this system to operate in our schools? We could hold live meetings without having to leave our buildings, parents could attend daytime PAC meetings from home or work, principals and teachers could hold video conferences with parents to discuss student learning. The applications are endless! The opportunities for learning boundless. What exciting times we live in!