Tweets from #OTRK12

Here are some tweets that I wrote, retweeted, or favourited during OTRK12. I still have to write my OTRK12 reflections in a post, and a summary of the session I hosted. Hopefully I’ll get those done this week. In the meantime, here’s OTRK12 in bite-sized chunks:

Tweets and Retweets

(Note: “the” = “they” in above tweet. You knew what I meant, right?)


Session Preparation for #OTRK12

Yup, On The Rise is this week. It’s hard to believe we’re that far into the school year already, and it’s harder to believe that it’s been over year since OTRK12 2014.

This year I’m very happy to be presenting on Friday morning. The session title is “How To Become An EdTech Leader” and it’s for school and system leaders. Here’s the official description:

What does it take to be a leader in educational technology (EdTech) today? You don’t need to be a technical wizard. You do need to be willing to connect to a community, listen to others, and share what you’re doing.

We’ll talk about how to create or join different kinds of communities online. We’ll explain some different roles you can have. We’ll have hands-on time for you to get started using a platform of your choice based on your personal goals. And we’ll look at the challenges you can experience trying to lead at different levels of your organization (and propose some solutions!).

You’re coming to this session because you want to be a better leader with EdTech. If you’re a highly connected, social media guru, you probably want to go to a different session.

Did I mention it’s only an hour long? Yup, it’s a big topic. I’m paring down the stuff I’m going to talk about, and I think I’ll have to write an obscenely long blog post to get the rest of it out there.

My basic outline for myself is the following:

  1. Introduce myself (and participants, if there aren’t too many)
  2. Share some types of communities
  3. Develop some goals that participants might have as leaders
  4. Share some roles or stances that leaders can take
  5. List some possible/preferred online platforms
  6. Share challenges/cautions and solutions/suggestions to go with them
  7. Breathe a bit

I’m definitely feeling the time crunch. Sadly, I’m more verbose in person than I am in writing (shocking, I know), so I’ll need to strictly monitor myself. Of course, the actual path I take during the hour will depend on the other learners in the room with me.

Suggestions are very welcome, as always.

“Being an independent practitioner is inconsistent with professional practice.”

wall.jpg by frenchbyte on MorgueFile

Don’t go it alone. Image from frenchbyte via MorgueFile

The title quote is from Catherine Montreuil, Director of Education for Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board. She said this during her keynote presentation at On The Rise K-12: Enhancing Digital Learning on April 2, 2014.

This has really stayed with me. I’ve thought before about the moral imperative I believe teachers have to use technology in their teaching, and to be a reflective practitioner. I’ve always thought it a basic requirement to keep up-to-date with our best thinking around instructional strategies and assessment approaches.

But I’m not sure I’ve ever really thought about it quite they way she put it: that it’s actually unprofessional to be disconnected.

I believe you can connect in any way you like. Connecting with others in your school is a good first step, but the insular nature of schools can prevent you from seeing the possibilities for learning. Technology has made it tremendously easy to connect, build relationships, and learn from others who think a little differently because they don’t have the challenges/restrictions/history/blindspots that any group has. My preferred platforms are Twitter and WordPress, but there are many ways to share and to question. Create your Professional Learning Network (PLN).

The opportunity is there for all of us. You can choose how deep you want to go, but I don’t think you can in good conscience choose to ignore it completely. Learn from and with others, because no one has all the answers.

A collection of Storify stories from #OTRK12

@tommy2toneman: Hanging with the registration gang. #OTRK12  #OTRK12Selfie

@tommy2toneman: Hanging with the registration gang. #OTRK12 #OTRK12Selfie

Jaclyn Calder (@jaccalder) published the first one I saw, and I thought I might build a collection here. If you created or found a Storify story from On The Rise K-12 2014, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

@jaccalder: Competencies Session at OTRK12

@jaccalder: Collection of Notes and Reflections on #OSSEMOOC

@bgrasley: @Stephen_Hurley’s keynote at #OTRK12

@bgrasley@cathymontreuil’s keynote at #OTRK12

@bgrasley: #OTRK12Selfie – A Story of Relationships

@YKrawiecki: On The Rise K-12 2014 Conference

@MeglioMedia: OTRK12 2014

@lynekohutOn The Rise K-12: Enhancing Digital Learning


Tough couple of weeks, but #OTRK12 folks rock

Two weeks ago today my son came home with a sore throat and some redness on his face and body. After worsening at home, we spent five days with him in the hospital. He was discharged one week ago today, and I wrote a short post explaining what happened.

What that post doesn’t say is that the executive for On The Rise looked after everything without much help from me for that week. My wife and I were living at the hospital in Sault Ste. Marie (we leave 30 minutes away in the country) and I had only my phone and iPad to use to stay connected. Editing massive spreadsheets is challenging on a mobile device, and I was running on very little sleep and even less emotional peace. Lorenzo DiCerbo in particular came to the rescue as surrogate chair, ensuring that all of the tiny-yet-critically-important details were looked after.

It was only this past Saturday that I was certain I’d be able to attend On The Rise. My son had recovered quite a bit, and my wife and I agreed that I should be here if I could. I realize in retrospect that OTRK12 would have done just fine without me, which is actually a really great feeling, but I’m happy to have been here in person.

OTRK12 was a wonderful time to connect with old friends, new friends, and friends who up until now had been only “virtual” friends through Twitter, etc. Everyone who was aware of what had happened to my son, including people I had never met, asked me how he was doing, and also how I was doing, which was a little overwhelming. I shook the hand of and gave a one-armed hug to one of my favourite people and asked, “How’s it going?” and he replied, “Forget me. How are you? How is your son?” (Thanks, Chris).

The concern that my colleagues show for my well-being and my son’s health was touching. The relationships we create online, at a distance, are very real and very meaningful. And face-to-face events like ECOO’s Bring IT Together, OTRK12, and so on are a valuable consolidation of those relationships that I think is worth every minute of travel and every nickel of cost.

I see most of these people once or twice a year, sometimes less, but they are my closest friends in many ways. They are good people, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be together in person.

What I Learned Today (at #OTRK12): Not having the answers feels good!

(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.