Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli have a hit with their most recent book, Personal Learning Networks - Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education. Here is a link to the resources and examples in the book.
This is one of those books that as I read it, I kept nodding my head in affirmation and saying "I need all of our school principals to read this book". That along with my not so scientific highlighter index (the more content I highlight in a book, the more items that I feel I need to follow up on) say this is a book that can impact classroom practice, principal leadership, and district transformation.
OK - so why the 5 highlighter rating for this particular book? The book begins by outlining big picture changes in the world, followed by a challenge to rethink learning. Richardson does a good job convincing the reader that learning is no longer about information and facts, it is about accessing knowledge from one's personal learning network - and this is a social process.
On page 27 you'll find the following 7 traits shared by schools immersed in global learning networks:
1. students are better prepared for life and work in the 21st century
2. classrooms are more engaging
3. students are responsible for their own learning
4. instruction is more individualized
5. adults become better at their jobs and build problem-solving capacity
6. students are safer
7. schools save time and money
He recommends 5 tools to begin your personal network:
3. Google Reader
Each tool includes suggested resources and steps to allow you to jump right in.
I would suggest that a curation tool such as ScoopIt also be added to his list of tools.
The benefits of the networked classroom are explained along with several case studies of real educators following the steps that he has outlined in this book.
What I really liked about the book was that he didn't stop at the networked classroom and steps to becoming a networked teacher. The authors then provide a chapter on Becoming a Networked School by advocating three key cornerstones for school reform:
1. The compelling case (why should the school try to change)
2. The change team (quick but practical summary of the change process)
3. The pilot (just do it!)
The chapter on becoming a networked school even includes suggested agenda items and a timeline for the team meetings to make this a school journey of connected teachers working to connect beyond their own school.
The pragmatic approach to the book is evident in chapter five when the authors outline some likely hurdles that will come up during the process of school transformation including: finding the money, providing infrastructure and support, creating policies to ensure safety, and overcoming resistance to change.
Yeah but....is a response you may hear as you try to become a 21st century teacher or a 21st century school... and the answer to this is... Just Do It!