Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful for Technology Bridging Distance and Timezones

Hope that you are all in a place where you can be thankful today with family and friends.  This Thanksgiving we are close to some family and friends, and  miles away for others. 
But I'm thankful to technology for helping to bridge the distance and timezones that separate us.
or should I say.. I'm thankful to the way PEOPLE are using technology to connect across distance and timezones. 
My kids  and grandkids have been using text, Instagram, Facetime, Google Hangout, and shared Google photos album to make me part of the joy of family gathered together back in Vermont.

My online grad students at Marlboro and UVM are regularly using both the tools in our LMS and several  other digital tools to share their PROCESS of learning and form community.  Together they are creating, making, learning, and constructing knowledge together. 
This semester I took on a new challenge, teaching a course called   Innovations in Education: Maker- Centered Learning class   that is part of Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies
Honestly,  I was a little nervous about teaching this class online.  My previous experience with maker centered learning PD has mainly  been face to face via various Create Make Learn events, at  Vita-Learn conferences, with CVEDC workshop, or with the EMMA project.   Despite my reservations,   this course has turned out to be a true joy.  I look forward every morning to seeing if there are any new post in our online class community.  It has been so enjoyable to watch the grad students in that class grow as a community!  I've tried a few strategies for online learning -that I was not sure would work (i.e. letting the Invent to Learn book discussion be between students,  "Less Us, More Them")  and VoiceThread so we can bring in voice and video into our conversation about learning.   

But honestly,  I think that the most important element to the sense of community that I have seen form in this class was  the the willingness  of these educators/grad students to SHARE their PROCESS!  Sharing our successes and fails is not always easy.  It takes time to stop and document.  Sometimes metacognition interrupts flow.   But since we are not in the same room, and can't look over each others shoulders as we create, make, and learn;  using online tools to  watch each others struggles, or celebrating each others WINS is so important. 

Out blog as we live and learn mobile

Earlier this week,  I did a blog post on our  travel blog that  had me reflecting on the ability of technology to bridge the distance and time zone gap -- but in reality it's not the technology,  its how PEOPLE  use the technology  that works to bridge that gap.  During this post,  I reflected on how  thankful I am  for .... 


-- my University of Vermont students this semester using technology to learn about Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction
-- my Marlboro College students this semester piloting learning about Maker Centered Learning in an online class
-- working with  Tarrant Institute on the EMMA project (moving conversations about #makered forward in rural  Vermont schools)
-- educators who have become part of the Create Make Learn tribe - both during the Summer Institute and during the school year by sharing in our Google Community
-- the opportunity to collaborate on projects as a freelance educator with other organizations like CVEDC, RETN, ECHO, and the Generator
--companies like Sparkfun, The Imagination Toolbox. Birdbrain Technologies, WeVideo, and Voicethread and so many others who have offered educators so much more than technology tools with their online tutorials, free PD, and other support to help us use innovative technology in our practice

One of the highlights of my week was getting text messages from  the new maker space  at Burke School as they were building  wind tubes as part of  a student leadership day  that I helped design with Tarrant Institute as part of my EMMA project.    

It was not quite the same as being there,  but today's technology does allow me to stay engaged with the #vted community as I travel around the country looking for new ideas and inspirations to support students and teachers.  Between Google Apps,  email,  chat,  text, and video conferencing,  I hardly feel the difference in time zones (except when meetings are scheduled at 8:00 EST)

So today.. I want to say  I'm thankful for all the people who are effectively using technology to bridge the gap of distance and timezones in both learning, teaching, and just playing being human together. 

 Happy Thanksgiving. 

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