I sometimes have tried remembering a time in my teaching career when I felt that yes! I had achieved what was necessary to know in order to be a "worthy" educator, an educator who was worth working with learners. At each moment, I failed miserably, aware that there was always something new to learn, some new approach to try in class, a different game, a more exciting way to engage students' attention and add value to their learning progress. The novelty of learning kept me endeavouring constantly; a constant search for perplexing questions on how the brain learns, how individuals learn and how learning can be joyful.
Today, more than ever, I live my professional life in permanent Beta. From social networks to journals, from PDs and informal exchanges with colleagues, I bow my head with thanks to so many who teach me daily. Today was one of those special days.
As perhaps some of you may know, Vance Stevens holds Learning2Gether on a weekly basis, either with participants in a G+ Hangout or Elluminate session. Even if you miss a session, Stevens then records the event and it is freely available to all to watch/listen to at a later date.
Among other learning tools and features, today I learnt about Instreamia
Online and also available as an app for Edmodo, Instreamia offers lessons with a twist of pleasure and learning.
As I have often said, it is not the digital tool which is the focus of learning, but the learning which that tool may enable. For students who relish challenge, a sense of empowerment in their learning, and being the centre of their learning, Instreamia seems to me, to be a great way to engage learners.
And so my life in Beta continues; learning and practising new tools and platforms, reflecting on how best to use them for the sake of learning and how my students may achieve better outcomes with those tools. Or not.
As an educator, there is a deep sense of humility living a life in Beta. There is equally, a sense of satisfaction in learning, a profound sense of gratitude to colleagues who share, reflect and teach me; and endless wonder when seeing how quickly students grasp and create products of knowledge with new digital tools.
Digital tools are not the "be all" - they are the means to learning. Edtech is no longer an option and to conclude today, I'd like to quote Tom Whitby who so eloquently summed it up in a recent post:
"Education as much as any other industry has been deluged with technological tools for learning, communication, collaboration, and creation. These tools represent and are used with everything that we teach and hold dear. Some are good and some are not. Our choice as educators should be between the good and the bad, the useful and the frivolous, the productive and the time wasters. As educators we no longer get to choose whether or not we use technology. If our goals, as well as we as educators, are to be believed, and we truly are preparing our students for the real world, we must concede that that world abounds with technology and there are no other choices. We would be more than remiss in our obligation as educators if we chose not to employ technology where it fits. There are times when it may not."
Living in Beta or content in Alpha?
Stevens, V., Learning2Gether - A Space Where Educators can Learn Together
Whitby, T., 2013, The Big Lie in Education