Friday, August 2, 2013

The Digital Shift

Everything is shifting at Lebanon Senior High School! When students return next week, they'll not only be greeted by a beautiful new facility, but also their very own MacBook Air. Teachers prepared for this Digital Shift by attending a fantastic conference that bears the same name. Sessions specifically geared toward using these new devices on a day to day basis, equipped Lebanon educators (as well as guests from 50 districts) with a new skill-set to help them make the shift and thrive in this new environment.

Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, perhaps best known for her work with curriculum mapping, was an excellent keynote and a great inspiration for helping schools make the changes they need to stay relevant. In recent years she has helped to develop and share Curriculum21, a clearinghouse of resources to help educators transform their curriculum. Stimulating new thinking in so many areas, Dr. Jacobs told participants, "I'd like to eliminate every committee you are on." Rather than meeting consistently when it may not be needed, she says schools should be asking: "Who are the best people to bring together to solve this problem?" This responsiveness to needs and opportunities is also present in her philosophy about integrating technology. With so many tools at our fingertips, she urges educators to create avenues for students to engage in meaningful, globally connected work.

I also attended a great session called Discover, Collect and Create, presented by Joey Till and Justin Vail who have the experience of being 1:1 with Macbooks for the past couple of years in their district, Wabash City Schools. They've curated some great tools to help teachers make sense of the digital world and present them in three categories that essentially break down to: finding things, organizing things, and making things. Their full slideshare for this workshop is available on their website: Eduation Shift. Thanks to Justin for giving a shout-out to the #INeLearn Chat happening Thursdays at 8pm EST. You can also find more from these two on Twitter under the handle @ED_SHIFT.

In the hallway during passing, I overheard two different groups talking about this "mind-blowing session" called 'Smoke & Mirrors'. So, I decided to stop in and catch a repeat of Missy Feller's concurrent. In tribute to her theme, the session was indeed magical! Her tricks ranged from sleight of hand tips like choosing to print to PDF instead of paper, to some serious hocus pocus like For all of the tools she shared, check out her Symbaloo Mix from the session. Missy shared on Twitter that her sessions (which she has presented at 6 of our eLearning conferences) have been attended by more than 500 educators! #Awesome

I also have to give additional kudos for the great culture evident at Lebanon. Joining me in each session were members of a fantastic student team, learning alongside their teachers, cataloging great ideas to share with their teachers and peers. Such empowerment is bound to make their upcoming school year an exciting one to watch!

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