get'er done...

(moving forward faster....and together!)

My son and I love playing around with Google Maps. We like to pick a distant place and take advantage of the directions feature to plot out a course. The best part is the way Google provides both route and time of travel data for a variety of transportation options.

Here's an example. Below are the directions to Parliament Hill in Ottawa from my office.

This option shows that it would take 77 or 78 hours (depending upon course) to walk from Yonge and Sheppard in Toronto to Ottawa; kinda daunting.

Driving to the Parliament Buildings would take 4 hours and 14 minutes. A move in the right direction!

Flying to Ottawa would take approximately 55 minutes.

Each option carries its own unique pros and cons. Despite the various considerations in choosing a path, it would be hard to argue though that:

in terms of speed and ease;
flying wins.

If one were to only consider walking, the likelihood of successfully reaching the destination would be slim to none. The physical and emotional stress coupled with the sheer length of time would cause anyone to reconsider the effort. If we were to only consider one path without deviation, the frustration level would rise and the belief in successful completion would be low. We must always be open to re-evaluating our direction and be open to change.

parallels to education

Educational change has two elements to it: ideas and implementation. Repeatedly, (either at the grassroots or at the speaker level) we hear about the need for relevance, self-direction, personalization, collaboration, inquiry, digital access, and self-regulation in education. There isn't much argument about the importance of these core elements; the difficulties and disagreements arise in the implementation phase.  

We are often told that change is a long, slow and difficult process. This does not have to be the case. Travelling to Ottawa by foot is damn slow and plenty painful BUT we don't have to walk. We have plenty of other options. We can also choose to drive, travel by train or fly. Similarly, change is slow and painful if we only consider one path of dispersion and implementation. Traditional methods of diffusing ideas and practice are becoming increasingly irrelevant. More concerning though is that these methods are incongruent with our changing society as well as being disenfranchising to our stakeholders.

what if we considered a new path?

I believe that we should not enter into any change initiative without considering scalability.  It's not good enough anymore to simply hold professional development sessions in isolation or as a limited series. The learning must be shared to a larger audience. We must leverage all of the collaborative tech tools available to spread and contextualize the learning. It's not just sharing the learning though, it is also about empowering people in the field to make decisions about the type of learning.

so what would this look like?

I believe that a hub structure could be one of the answers. The central level co-creates the mission, the core values, and a vision for 21st Century Learning. Hubs of teachers, administrators and other stakeholders would then be given certain autonomy to operationalize. These hubs would have to plan and act based on the values established centrally but the operations would be highly contextualized and implemented based on local need. These hubs would be asked to document their journey and share it. Empowerment, context, and innovation in action.

Take a look at the video below as an example:

A hub structure is only one possibility. The goal is to network our learning, empower all stakeholders as change agents and relentlessly pursue the scaling of practice and ideas. We must look to subvert the traditional model of program building. Change will always be bumpy but it doesn't have to be slow and arduous. The experience and pace of change is largely determined by the methods of planning and implementation.

We are all at different places along the path to acceptance and implementation of 21st Century Learning. The goods news is that when we choose to network, we can leverage all of the points and perspectives at the various spots on that path. I might be an early stages of acceptance and implementation but a member of my PLN might be further along. Creating networked connections can help me to potentially grow. We just have to open to new ideas and methods. No judging. No fear. Accept failure. Celebrate success. Move forward.

change will be slow as long as we continue to use the  same methods that got us here in the first place