(If you like, you can hear me read this post here.)
We concluded the excellent On The Rise K-12: Enhancing Digital Learning symposium today, and perhaps two dozen people came up to me with the same, interesting remark: the “feeling” of OTRK12 was really, really positive, especially compared with other gatherings of educators.
I discussed it a bit with a few people and came to a conclusion that might explain the difference.
When you go to a subject association conference you meet a lot of people who have “solved” teaching problems. They have instructional approaches that work (for them). They have (perhaps) a strong idea of what, precisely, they want students to learn. They have years, maybe decades, of experience with experimentation in their classroom which inform their practice now. And this is all good, to a large extent.
The problem is that each of those people has a different solution to the problems of teaching math or chemistry or geography or whatever. Unfortunately, sometimes this creates experts who are very certain of themselves, or who are held up as authorities in their subject area to the exclusion of innovative thinking.
Digital Learning is different. There are people who have decades of experience with digital learning, but there is no one who has even years of experience with today’s digital learning. It’s just not possible, because today’s digital learning doesn’t look like digital learning from 2012 or 1998. In digital learning, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, people aren’t experts; they just have expertise.
Brilliant people were here sharing what they have discovered. These are really, really skilled educators, and they are learners just the same as those who learn from them. There’s a tangible humility.
And so OTRK12 had nearly 600 happy participants who are well aware that we’re figuring stuff out as we go along, and that it will always be that way, from here on out, forever.
No one has answers, but everyone has possibilities. No one is very comfortable, but everyone is very hopeful. No one knows the destination, but we’re all moving in the same direction.
And it feels good.