ISTE 2012 – Leadership Symposium

Today I was about to be part of an amazing opportunity!!!.  I was going to participate in the ISTE Leadership Symposium which brings together administrators, principals, directors and teachers who are passionate about leading ICT in their schools. The Symposium focused on four main keystones:

Creating Meaningful Learning ExperiencesDesigning the Learning Environment

Moving Beyond the TextbookKnowing We Are Successful

The four Keystone issues highlight what the ISTE board determined the most important issues facing educators at the moment.  Speaking to these key points was educator and author Michael Fullan. Michael is Professor Emeritus of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and has developed and published books on various topics of education.

Michael’s most recently publication “Stratosphere” focuses on Integrating Technology, Pedagogy and Change knowledge. Specifically the topic is focused on the idea of Whole System Reform and the notion of instead of moving one or two schools on a journey to be better, why not reform an entire district or a culture of education to raise the bar.

Fullan highlights the research conducted in the UK over a fifteen year period into education and the general observations of research. Two observations relating to the negative aspects of this type of research were
(1) don’t obsess with targets. This generally results in losing the bigger picture information and
(2) don’t obsess with negative accountability.
The two really impressive areas of the research related to the
(1) Focus – the ability to slim down the key critical factors and
(2) Capacity building – taking ones current capital and adding strands such as leadership and curriculum knowledge etc.

Fullan also introduced the term Simplexity – applying ‘the skinny changes’ (with focus on no more than five) to systems which  allow small focus priorities to be targeted leading to complexity (getting things to gel) and with it starting with focus and moving to capacity. Building on this Fullan outlined the state education system of Ontario changes in the area of literacy, numeracy and gradation. This program of change took place over the past nine years with results showing  that within the first two years (4000 Schools) literacy improved 15% and graduation from 68% to 82%. To do this it was about taking a positive stance with the various sectors of equation, specifically the teacher unions and associations (this was critical). A core strategy of capacity building – Individuals and especially groups of teachers and it is the social capital which is the quality of the group.

Social Capital
Fullan highlighted important issues or buzzwords that should be drivers (in red)The idea of social capital was not something I considered at an organisational level until mentioned by Fullan. In general, schools create positions and bring in experts to consult, but organisations don’t always take full advantage of these people as a whole.  In Australia we still suffer the tall poppy syndrome and yes, even in the education system.  If a school is achieving well, they are viewed as opposition. The ability to develop the social capital and enhance collaboration between many education institutions is still in its infancy in Australia. I think it is ironic we expect our students to collaborate but we insulate our own profession from this.   Sure, some argue network meetings are for collaboration; however these tend to be in ‘subject areas’ where like-minded people gather and little or no collaboration or social capital is established

Wrong vs. Right Drivers

Accountability Capacity Building

Individual teacher and leadership qualitiesCollaborative Work

Technology Pedagogy

The drivers are certainly not something new but often the ability for administrators and principals to get stuck on the wrong side is quite common. Two key quotes related to the ability of the leader at the beginning of a change cycle.

Whether your strategies motivated people to actually achieve results.


What’s worse than being bored?  Being responsible for teaching the boring…

After this introduction the groups broke into sessions with a focus on the keystones highlighted above. 

Designing Learning Environments

This session focused on environments and how they operate to support student learning. While it didn’t look at the physical environment it did take into consideration the notion of learning being personal and individualistic in its creation. One company is ahead of its field in this area, Learning Space – Toolkit learning spaces tool kit. This company looks at the design and creation of learning spaces for students.  Their website is not fully released until November of this year; however a great deal of interest has already been shown from many different education sectors.

We spent a much time discussing Flipped Learning and the theory behind that model. Flipped learning has gained a lot of traction in the past year and I can fully understand why.  The positives for Flipped Learning relate directly to teacher time with the student and student time revising the resources.   Flipped Learning is about Reaching Every Student in Every Class Every Day. This is their main focus.  Imagine the possibilities of that.  A focus on ensuring each student had a personal interaction with their teacher every day!!!

You may well ask – what is the best use of my face-to-face class time?

From my observations, Flipped Learning is a bridge to inspire self-learning and taking the opportunity to consume personally and self-drive the process of learning. By doing this a process of achieving a better understating of the content could be achieved by understanding the WAY of the knowledge and not just the HOW.

By using Flipped Learning it highlights opportunities to be part of the process of understanding.

Okay, so the notion of Flipped Learning is not necessarily new.  And yes, it has been undertaken in the past. Teachers ask students to read books and then generate discussion in a classroom setting. However, the real issue for me comes down to making sure learning is captured by video and used as a review process.  This resource can be reviewed in future years as a resource for the course in general. In my experience, Teachers generally revert to the recording of lessons which will add to the normal working day and I can understand that. The goal therefore is to make the technology capturing the learning second to none and build the resources over time.

REFLECTIONS from Sessions

  • Technology is only a prop
  • Teacher lead or student lead – whatever the emphasis, it has to be a partnership
  • Teacher as facilitator (relative passive) – Teacher as activator (relatively active)
  • Disruptive innovations – First instances are potentially better… and early versions
    • Generally on the right track begins an improvement cycle
    • We are in a rapid improvement cycle at the moment
  • Motion Leadership – causes a positive movement
    • Motion leadership – motivate the unmotivated. They’ll thank you for it later.
    • All research needs to be about the HOW they got there.

Push – Pull – Nudge

Push – assertive – on the edge – not the best way of doing things in general

Pull – attract them into a good vision and process

Nudge – making things available but with no requirement to do anything

Foot Notes from conversations session.

What do I already know about Digital Learning Environments that I can share?

  • Digital – Moodle seems to be the goods in the USA –
  • Google Apps
  • Edmodo
  • Just because something works for one classroom it doesn’t mean it will work for all classrooms, all teachers, and all students.
  • Teacher professional development is a must for all digital learning environments.
  • Digital office hours for students.
  • The assessment of the knowledge – leads the digital learning environments. We have to do things this way, because it is on the assessment….. assessment drives learning environment.
  • What would I like to learn more about Digital Learning Environments?

Record pondering…

  • How does it affect the actual classroom space – what are you doing in class (outside of science)?
  • How can professional development work to help teachers who do not understand, to care, or want to change?
  • Backchannel while teaching? (videos)