This page is initially in support of a breakout session at the CASE Winter Leadership Conference. (We asked attendees of the breakout session to read the first two items below before the breakout session.) Our hope is that this will expand and grow not only via Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation, but also through discussions and input from administrators around the state (and beyond).

Networking: The New Literacy

Our students must be nomadic, flexible, mobile learners who depend on their ability to connect with people and resources. As educators, we need to master this as well, we must know for ourselves how to create, grow, and navigate these collaborative spaces in safe, effective, and ethical ways. We need to create our own Personal Learning Networks not only to learn ourselves, but to model these shifts for our students. Come join this session with Friday’s Keynote Speaker Will Richardson as we discuss what steps administrators can take to ensure that they – and their schools – are meeting the needs of our students.

  1. We would like all CASE Winter Leadership Conference attendees to read Footprints in the Digital Age from the November 2008 issue of Educational Leadership. This will prime you for the closing keynote on Friday by Will Richardson.

    Essential Questions
    What literacies must educators master before we can help students make the most of these powerful potentials? What’s one thing you are going to do in the next six weeks to help you begin to master these literacies? How does "authentic" assessment change when the student's audience is the world?
  2. For those folks attending Will Richardson's breakout session on Thursday, please also read Mark Pesce's blog post Fluid Learning before the session.

    Essential Questions
    Capture Everything: What's worth capturing in my classrooms? My building? My district? Audio? Video? Text-based assignments? Student work? Writing?

    Share Everything: Where can I share it? With whom? What audiences is our organization working to serve? How will they benefit from these shared items? Who needs to see what’s going on?

    Open Everything: What are the closed silos of information in our schools that shouldn't be? What things outside of our schools have we closed (blocked)? What can we do to open both of those up?

    Only Connect: How can I help my students and teachers connect with content, with each other, and with others outside the classroom (students, teachers, experts, mentors, the community, etc.) in a meaningful way?

    What questions do I have for my administrators/curriculum staff? Teaching Staff? IT Staff? Students?

    Graphic Organizer for this activity (Word, PDF). Feel free to download and use.

    Online, editable pages for each of the questions above: (Capture Everything, Share Everything, Open Everything, Only Connect, What Questions Do I Have). As you have these discussions at CASE, at CoLearning, in your schools, and in your communities, please share out the results on the appropriate wiki page. It might take a few minutes to get the hang of editing a wiki, but you'll figure it out - give it a shot. And, don't worry, there's a history page so if you accidentally delete something, you can get it back.

Here are some additional resources and recommended activities for administrators to continue their learning about - and sharing of - network literacy.

Additional Recommended Readings and Questions

The following is a long list of thought-provoking blog posts, articles and videos that can help administrators start or continue conversations in their school districts, schools, and communities. Each one is accompanied by a set of essential questions that can guide you as you read the article and can help further spur discussion.

  1. Essential Questions
    We know that good teachers existed before the current wave of technology, but can a teacher today be the best teacher they can be and truly meet the needs of their students without using technology? What implications does this have for professional development and teacher evaluation? What implications does this have for the technological literacy levels of administrators?

    Read Karl Fisch's Is it Okay to be a Technologically Illiterate Teacher? blog post (including comment thread) and National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers(NETS-T).
  2. Essential Questions
    What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century? Are we as educators currently literate? If not, what implications does that have for our students, and what proposals can we put in place to get all educators to a basic level of 21st century literacy in a reasonable amount of time?

    Read NCTE's definition of 21c literacy along with The Partnership for 21st Century Skills English Skills Map
  3. Essential Questions
    Do you believe schools foster inquiry and passion in students? If so, are your schools currently structured to do that? Are students regularly asked to research, collaborate, create, present and network in your schools? If not, what can you do to change that?

    Read Chris Lehmann's blog post Talking to 49 Superintendents along with his Ignite Philly 5 minute presentation
  4. Essential Question
    Of the 10 things the author thinks we should unlearn, pick the three that most resonate with you. Now, how are you going to foster “unlearning” those things for you, other administrators, and teachers in your school/district?

    Read Will Richardson’s Steep Unlearning Curve blog post
  5. Essential Questions
    In a rapidly changing, information abundant world, what should students know and be able to do? What should “school” or “learning” look like in a world where almost all factual information is literally a click away? How do we help students create their own Personal Learning Networks? What steps are you going to make to create your own PLN? Which of the suggestions in Shift Happens – Now What? resonates with you, and how can you go about implementing them?

    Read Stephanie Sandifer's blog post Shift Happens – Now What? and watch this version of Did You Know?/Shift Happens (Vision Remix, Fall 2007). Also explore the Shift Happens wiki for more information.
  6. Essential Questions
    Do you agree that the culture of most educational institutions today is insulated, that it actively tries to block out the “outside” world? If so, do you believe that educational institutions can survive (and thrive) with that culture? If not, what are some steps you can take to open up the culture in your school/district?

    Read Bill Farren's Insulat-Ed blog post and we also highly recommend reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky
  7. Essential Questions
    Where do you rank yourself in terms of competency on the NETS for Administrators? What do leaders really need to know about this? What are you (your school, your district) doing to help your leaders grow in this area?

    Read the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) along with Scott McLeod’s An Absence of Leadership (pdf) article from ISTE's Learning and Leading with Technology magazine.
  8. Essential Questions
    What kind of collaborative partnerships - physical or virtual - can you develop with folks outside of your school(s)? (universities, corporations, other schools, etc.) What steps can you take to engage with these collaborative technologies yourself, both to learn and to model for our students?

    Read Will Richardson's article World Without Walls - Learning Well with Others from Edutopia
  9. Essential Questions
    Take a look at the seven survival skills that Wagner postulates through the lens of a typical classroom in your school (or, if you’re at the district level, a typical elementary, middle, and high school classroom). How’s that classroom do on those seven skills? Pick three of the skills and brainstorm ways to work with teachers in your building to strengthen their presence in the typical classroom.

    Read Tony Wagner's article Rigor Redefined from the October 2008 issue of Educational Leadership, along with this post on the Google Blog
  10. Essential Questions
    Is it important to bring meaning and significance into the classroom? Do you think the way students portrayed themselves in these videos is fairly accurate for today’s student? How can we leverage the “networked” student, and the technological tools we have at our disposal, to empower our students to pursue real, relevant, and rigorous questions?

    Read Kansas State Professor Michael Wesch's blog post and watch some of his videos (A Vision of Students Today, The Machine is Using Us, and Information Revolution). Also watch Wendy Drexler's Networked Student

Start Reading Blogs

The only way to truly begin to understand the literacy of networking is to participate. We would recommend subscribing to 3 to 5 blogs to begin with (ask your tech folks for help if you don't know how to subscribe). We would highly recommend that you subscribe to Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed and to LeaderTalk. Then find one to three more blogs that interest you, either by asking people you know, following links in Weblogg-ed and LeaderTalk, or by doing a Google Blog Search.

Read those blogs for two to three months, commenting when you're ready and have something to say. Then consider starting your own blog, either an individual blog or a group of educators in your school/district, to continue the conversations you're having about teaching and learning in the twenty-first century.

Consider attending Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation on February 21, 2009.