Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Smarter Planet – Ontario Perspectives!

Last week I attended IBM’s K-12 executive Summit.
The Summit brought together educators from across Ontario and some participants 
from Newfoundland and Saskatchewan.

Mike East, General Manager, IBM K-12 Education provided an overview of many IBM initiatives that are helping to support student success across Ontario.  He mentioned a vision to help educators improve learning through powerful technology made for a smarter planet.   

David Robitaille, Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Executive, shared some success stories of employee volunteer work as part of the 100 year anniversary of IBM.   An impressive 325,000 staff took part in over 5200 projects around the world.  One such project took place in the Ottawa Catholic School Board where our grade 6 students focused on creativity and innovation as part IBMs partnership with Destination Imagination. An interesting question that employees were asked, could be presented to all school Boards “How is the World different,  and better, because of your organizations existence”
A series of IBM video clips were shown that highlighted problem solving, creativity, and challenging pre-conceptions.  I couldn’t help but think about our Ontario standardized tests and the inability of these tests to measure these exact qualities that IBM staff are espousing as their most important skill sets.

Mag Wadie, National Consulting and Technical Services Manager, and Peter McKay, K-12 Education Manager, spoke of the need for an effective infrastructure to support the strategic goals of the organization.  They also highlighted the need for collaboration and networking with colleagues and support organizations.  There is a clear need to understand and analyze the data that is being collected to ensure that the results are used to support student success.

Anne Saftich, National Teaching and Learning Manager, IBM K-12 Education also echoed the need for networking and strong partnerships.  She focused on professional development that is aligned to instructional practice.  There is a need to stop and reflect on the technological tools that have been implemented to ensure that they are being used effectively to support Board priorities and organizational goals.

The most unique speaker was Shelly Blake-Plock who is the blogger-in-chief with .  His focus was on the use of networks to support educational goals.  He is the founder of that sets as its mandate: Empowering Connected Professional Growth and Networked Personal Development in Education, Enterprise, and the Art”.  His key points included:

·         Achievement is measured by the definitions that we have set on standardized tests, but this denies why most kids to school, for social interactions
·         We need to ask if the education we are providing is relevant to most students
·         The network is the fundamental shift in education, the device is only important because it connects you to the network that has access to globalization
·         Students can now use their network to validate data and don’t have to rely on the teacher as the authority for that data
·         Networks are built on social capital that is validated by others around the world
·         Real security is not achieved by locking things down it is achieved by getting students to feel ownership for the systems within which they interact
·         The school provides the learning environment but it now exists beyond the school day, learning is available to students whether they are in school or not … school has become unschooled
·         He challenged us to look at what impact education is having on students, and he indicated that capacity is not about how many followers you have, it is about how many leaders you have, and your role as part of a network in developing those leaders
·         Finally, he suggested that we should not ask what is possible, we should ask what is impossible as this will be the role of education in a networked and technologically changing global environment.  

Board break-out sessions focused on many collaborative projects taking place where technology is helping Boards with their pedagogical changes to  support student success.

For a copy of our District presentation, click here.

In summary – Get Connected and Focus on Innovative Problem Solving and Creative skills, in addition to traditional focuses on numeracy and literacy

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