Big Ideas, Like Minds

A few days back, Alex Ragone posted this via twitter (I just don’t feel comfortable saying “tweeted”):

Working on technology vision for students and faculty. We really need to look big picture and design curric to match that. Not so now.

I’ve never met Alex face-to-face, only through a twitter request that landed me in his professional development workshop last year, but his thinking in 140 characters or less gave me an idea: Alex lives in New Jersey, so do I.  His thought made me think about what we’ve been working on in our locale regarding the same issues.  How do you design curriculum so that your pedagogy and technology are in harmony to the point where we don’t talk about technology as an isolated event that happens in the lab or is viewed as a separate bullet point in a curriculum document?

My response was simple

@alexragone would love to get a skype session about curricular vision with a few of us from NJ.

Those simple connections led us to including Bill Stites, Dan Sutherland, and Barry Bachenheimer in the conversation via a collaborative planning document and a skype conversation.  In our daily jobs as administrators, tech coordinators, and teachers, we often get mired in the issues that bog us down: supplies that don’t arrive, inter-departmental squabbles, crab-bucket culture, etc.  Having the opportunity to engage our minds in this form of big-picture play keeps us free, keeps us from the feeling that we are running through mud.

We hatched a plan and pitched the idea to the annual NJECC Conference on March 17-20 at Montclair State University.  Here’s the plan:

This conversation will address the following essential questions:  What does the student experience in a classroom look like when the curriculum is integrated with technology that they use?  What support structures need to be in place for this classroom to exist?  For the experiences to exist?
Bring your curriculum design question and we’ll help you develop it for the dynamic needs of today’s and tomorrow’s students.
We’ll demonstrate successful classroom practices using social networking, online course management systems, global and local collaboration,  and online writing to create audience for your students.

It hasn’t been accepted as of yet, but if it does, and you are in the tri-state area, please come join us.  There will be four of us leading this workshop in a hands-on format.  We are hoping for a lot of small group discussion and creation of solutions for participants.  One phrase I remember uttering during our skype planning session was that I wanted each of us to remember the key elements from the best conference workshop we’ve ever been to, and I want us to re-create them here.  We need to teach this one in the manner with which we would want to learn it.  For me, that’s conversation and sharing among participants.

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3 thoughts on “Big Ideas, Like Minds

  1. Hi Wendy,

    I’ve seen the video, and I think it’s great, especially that it is told with student voice. We need to remember more often that the tools that we’ve all come to use, may not be the tools that our students choose. However, what I took from your video is the skills needed to be able to find the tools that work for you.

    We will definitely write about what we do, and possibly stream it (if the network allows). What’s truly exciting for me is that there will be four of us in the room to move about and work with people. Now, hopefully people will show!

  2. Patrick – I’ve been thinking a lot about the process that led to our presentation. Our collaborating to create this presentation proposal was an amazing example of how 140 characters of text can start our minds moving in similar directions. Thanks for writing about it.

    What I really appreciated during this collaboration was the honesty and clear perspective that everyone involved provided. We all had different perspectives yet were able to come together a create a presentation proposal that was much better than what any one of us would have done (or definitely what I would have done). We collaborated via Google docs and then via a skype conference. The tools allowed for us to be flexible and work on our own time and then come together to polish the final product.

    Looking forward to hearing if this one is approved.

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