“Writing still matters. Reading still matters. In fact it may matter even more.” Those were some of the key points I took away from our first session of Engaging the Digital Learner, featuring West Vancouver Superintendent Chris Kennedy. Chris’ message wasn’t new to me, I have heard him before but I still found it wonderfully inspiring. One of the things I like about Chris is although he is comfortably fluent in the digital world, he is absolutely grounded in making sure it is all about learning and not about the technology.
Chris also spoke about how West Vancouver has placed Teacher-Librarians at the centre of their district’s staff development plan. Teacher-Librarians are key to supporting teachers with digital literacy learning. It makes sense. I like the vision of the Teacher-Librarians as digital literacy champions for both students and staff.
Teachers dialogued at their tables in response to several key questions: What is going well with digital literacy? How can we further the appropriate use of technology and social media? What do we need to do to enable further success? What can you commit to explore to increase digital literacy in your classroom? Here are some of the responses that appeared in the backchannel and the twitter feed:
- “The emergence of digital leaders or champions at schools is one element of what is going well with digital literacy.”
- “To promote success we need better access to quality technology and legitimate time to play and explore with colleagues.”
- “Teachers are starting to play and explore technology. Do that and tell us the 10 coolest things you learned. Play is the first step.”
- “The implementation of a wireless network across the school campus will be a powerful change agent.”
- “Ongoing professional development to ensure success. Hands on support…..open wireless big time needed…. Want to bring own technology from home (sic).”
- “How much “dashboard time” have the teachers received in your district?” (dashboard refers to receiving one-to-one training).
- “Increased bandwidth is so important.”
- “Funding, commitment, professional development….less talk, more action.”
- “We are committing to tweet together as a group and share our twitter and, possibly, our blogs with one another.”
- “Going well…..hmmmm…we have some motivation and desire…..look how many people are here tonight.”
I think everyone who left that night felt inspired to learn more. We asked individuals to register with a buddy (or two) in order to connect their learning between sessions. Many tables were forming new groups and seeing it as an opportunity to create a network of learners. I was appreciative of the work of the IML Helping Teachers in organizing such a fabulous dinner series. The team asked me to thank Chris and close the session. I wore the “Teachers are the best apps” T-shirt that was designed by Helping Teacher Amy Newman. The shirt was significant because the motto really captures our beliefs about embracing technology in the digital era. It isn’t about the tools, it isn’t about the ipads or the ipods or any other shiny device. It is about teachers who know how to make a difference because they know how to stretch the thinking of students. It is about teachers who care about students and are prepared to meet them on their digital ground.