If you walked around my school, you’d see lots of computers (not 1 to 1) and a lot of desktop labs, but never the less, we have good Educational Technology platform. What you can’t see is what makes it work as a school working to embed 21st Century Learning. I often get the questions about ‘how we do things’, and I think most visitors are looking at the physical buildings and hardware. But to be honest, these things do not power what we’re doing. There lies the difference. If you set yourself up as an Educational Technologist, and not just as the IT Manager – then your task is to inter-weave curriculum, technology, professional development, IT infrastructure management, support and probably most importantly modelling pedagogical approaches to practical classroom learning. I think that this often not really understood by vistors who are looking at the physical space and hardware. EdTech enables learning, it does not control it.
So here’s a map of what my ‘econet’ looks like. The hub is Moodle (for PBL classes) or a Ning Group for Middle School or Senior School. From there we branch out and cross connect into more specialist ‘group’ based communities (which are sub-econets made up of individuals and even smaller groups).
Our EcoNET is fed by the Web2.0 tools and people who are talking about, advocating, modelling, arguing, trying, failing all manner of ideas and methods. Its multi-layered, multi modal and down right impossible to describe to people who ‘see the physical alone’.
But this is a mud map of what is in place in my EcoNet. These are the things that I’ve weaved together and do my best to feed. Within each area are other people, each doing their part to grow and sustain the core sub-structures. Some are working better than others, but because they are part of an overall EcoNet, each can sustand minor set backs, interuptions, lack of interest or over enthusiasm.
The EcoNet is not a hierarchy nor a linear path. It is disproportionate. It also grows in ways which are often suprising, and each area divides often or merges almost at will. My overall task is to make sure this sub-systems can be fed, that they can connect and therefore sustain learning in an evolving technological environment. We can easily drop a ‘tool’ or ‘add a tool’ without having to re-think the entire EcoNet.
This is a massive departure from the classical notion of a computer ‘network’ or Learning Management System – so when I’m asked to tell people how it all works … it is sort of impossible unless you can understand that what you see happening is not as a result of the technology in front of you … but because of the flexible learning technology frameworks that co-exist underneath it.
That to me is what makes EdTech a whole other ‘job’ to Managing IT. Love my EcoNet.