Friday, July 1, 2011

The Jump to Light Speed: Life is a Highway

ISTE 2011 is over. The crowds have disappeared from the Philadelphia Convention Center (and especially the Reading Terminal Food market!). I am back in my office trying to put it all together for what it means for my school district, and how we will begin the new school year. Then, while driving into school I hear the Rascal Flatts song "Life is a Highway".

"Life's like a road that you travel on
There's one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind"

 Then, it suddenly hits me, that we are all engaged in a journey with many bumps, turns, and speed variations. Despite the dinosaurs that refuse to consider change, we are still on that journey, anyway.

A journey on the open road of education is similar to Walt Whitman's poem the Song of the Open Road:

"AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose. "

So, some educators wonder, how they can begin that journey with students that are already engaged in the voyage.  Kim Cofino ( created some interesting suggestions for those that would attempt the change: 
1) Learn to become a user of Web 2.0 tools. There are many different "apps" for every platform that will make a teacher's work so interesting and rewarding.
2) Organize a PLN (Personal Learning Network) with colleagues in your district or around your region that will support each other in this wonderful journey.
3) Join a social network such as My Space, Facebook, Twitter, or Classroom 2.0, Next GenTeachers and learn to become engaged with the net generations. As a school superintendent I have been actively engaged in these networks and have connected with hundreds of colleagues around the world, struggling on the same journey as well.
4) Learn how to use an RSS feed (Real Simple Syndication). I use Google Reader and subscribe to hundreds of different publications, including newspapers, magazines, and blogs. It has become my new Sunday paper, so to speak.
5) Attend conferences with other educators and see the world anew.

Dinosaurs don't really exist, but people do. It's ok to have your fears about all of this stuff, but take a chance, test the waters, and jump to light speed.