Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shift is Happening in Qatar

Kim and teachers at morning break

Quite an amazing transformation is happening at Qatar Academy. It started before today, and is already visible but today has been another catalyst for further and more rapid shift.

Kim Cofino, IT staff and the Primary school teachers at our school spent the day exploring new concepts, ideas, concerns, strategies, tools for 21st century literacy and new modes of learning. We Twittered, we Ninged, we talked, we openly discussed at a professional level what it means to be teaching and learning in a time where there is so much change in the world. Many expressed fear and they have a right to be scared. We are all scared of what is around the corner, but it is a corner we have to go around.

Here are some comments, also found on our staff E-learning 4 Life Ning, based on today's experiences -

"My immediate response to this morning's wonderful opening presentation by Kim is two fold. My first thought is on a personal note as a parent. We struggle, as does each generation with a social shift, what is acceptable to us is challenged by our kids, my fear is that because we weren't necessarily prepared for this new social network our kids are "coping" and fielding so many social dimensions, we as parents have to get on board and learn how to scaffold a child's learning to use the tools to be an effective communicator. I cringe everyday when i see my daughters social networkind dialogue, I use expression such as "unacceptable to me", But can she use the tools to make an effective presentation for English class - yes - she can, can she use the compute to graph a math project - yes, will she be able to be a decent human being and socialise in the context I am used to - my friends tell me yes!
My second thought - professionally - I love all this - please help me - I need time, I need the tools - I need the support to help me overcome the frustrations that technology throws at us."

Sandy: (Head of Primary)
"I agree that support is needed and I believe that QA is going to work towards making sure that support is there for all."

"I agree totally with Vivien and felt a little guilty as a parent earlier when I realize that computer time is so important for our children, but how to allow them to use time on the computer effectively and supporting them with this. Time is always as issue for us all as parents and professionals....."

"I was bowled over by it all. I felt it was a bit of a wake up call really.
My reactions to the presentation - it was an eye-opener! I kind of felt like when I jumped off the bridge this summer. A mixture of excitement filled with the fear of the unknown. The initial free-fall was painful and I went in blindly (my eyes shut briefly) Once I felt my weight catching on to the rope it was wonderful! I think it'll be like with most things in life .... it'll take practice and patience. Happy ning-ing and blogging everybody!"

"I am so inspired and in awe of Kim's presentations! Thank you. The two videos that Kim showed us really started conversations!! There were many reactions to this changing world. Good and bad! Fear! Insecurity! Excitement! Anticipation! Uncertainty! As I look at my 3 year old trying to get onto my computer and my 5 year old picking up my digital camera and happily clicking away within seconds of my arrival home, I realize that this is their world! I am excited for them (with a fear factor, of course). Educating them with critical thinking skills will help alleviate some of my fears and hopefully prepare them for this dynamic world. As an educator, I am looking forward to facilitating learning while choosing the best 'tool for the job.' As Jody will take practice and patience...and...enthusiasm! I am happy to help :)"

Kirsten: (Deputy Head, Primary)
"Wow, I am so thrilled to see such excitement in the school. I think we will talk about these two days for many weeks to come. I know I learnt heaps. Thanks Kim and thanks to everyone."

"The concept of a personal learning network resonates with me. When I was living in Botswana, teaching at a small school on the edge of the Kalahari, but studying online, I was able to communicate with educators all over the world - people that I could never have hoped to meet in the normal course of events, let alone engage in discussion. I found that extremely exciting, and liberating, and it turned my professional life around. However, my learning network was handed to me on a plate - fellow students, lecturers, and people whose research I was reading. Now I look forward to developing a network of educators from whom I can learn and with whom I can share - an exciting prospect."

Thanks also to Vivian for blogging about the Spike Milligan poem On the Ning Nang Nong'!

It's nearly midnight....we have had more conversations over dinner at the old souk in a Moroccan restaurant sitting outside in beautiful weather while watching the lights of the 'curly mosque' Islamic center. A great day! And more to come tomorrow!

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Anonymous said...

"I, too, am very excited for the vision and opportunities presented these last two days as part of our Professional Development sessions. I feel fortunate for having two daughters at an age where they are experimenting and using all these technologies and I have been forced to keep up in my attempt to be able to monitor what they are into and what they are doing online. I feel it is my responsibility to try to minimize the gap between the world they inhabit and mine. This motivation has transfered into my professional life and made me more aware of the need to bring the tools and skills students use outside of school into the classroom. I believe it is negligent to ignore the new technologies in the classroom just because it forces us to move outside of our comfort zone. This is the world the students are living in right now as well as their future and we need to offer our support and guidance into helping them make sense of that world. Also,I believe that our most important role will be to continue to provide the balance between technology and the other aspects of their social and emotional well being. Thus, our role as teachers does not have to become obsolete but it will need to be redefined."

Julie Lindsay said...

Ana, thanks so much for your well thought out comments. I appreciate what you are saying as I am also a mother of a teenager and worry about keeping a balance while still moving forward and providing opportunities for growth in a digital world.