The big picture…

community of practice

If you read this blog, chances are you have seen this image before. If you read A Global Community, my chapter in the IB book Journeys in Communities of Practice, you’ll see it there too. And if you participate in ‘Direct Your Own Learning‘, my session at the Reform Symposium Conference next weekend (time conversion here), you’ll probably see it again.

After the first day of the Melbourne GAFE summit, (Google for Education), I wondered if the conference was more about tools than learning.  After the second day, with my thinking provoked by @mistersill and @betchaboy‘s keynotes, some new ideas inspired by sessions learning (well, yes) tools, and some good conversation with other educators, I’m re-evaluating…

It turns out the ‘big picture’ looks like the one above!

4 thoughts on “The big picture…

  1. After yesterday’s post, Edna, I was very keen to see what today’s would bring. I’ve attended a number of Teach Meets now as well as the more extended ‘Summits’ and even ‘Academies’ and my frustration has been that they spend an awful lot of time on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ without getting to the ‘why’. Or rather a lot on the ‘tech’ and the ‘tools’ without getting to the ‘teach’ or the ‘team’. That part of it seems to happen by accident when the people at the even start to talk to each other. To my mind, this is often a relic of the educational system the presenters have grown up with. Sometimes, the ‘how’ can be really instructive: ‘how to flip an elementary classroom’ or ‘how to use video to foster enquiry’, but often it’s still stuck in that older model where the speaker gives the audience some magic tricks to take back and sprinkle on their practice. I’m glad you singled out Jim Sill (you got his Twitter handle slightly wrong in your post, by the way) and Chris Betcher because I know they ‘get it’. It’s not about the tech: it’s all about the learning, and that’s as true whether you’re in a class of over-excited adults or a class of kids!


  2. Thanks for the comment, Mark, and I think you’re right. At a summit for google apps, which are ‘tools’ after all, the sessions naturally have an emphasis on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, rather than the ‘why’. I knew what I signed up for.

    But when I stepped away and looked at the big picture, I saw lots of passionate educators taking control of their own professional learning, actively participating and collaborating, sharing their practice, giving generously, learning appreciatively, demonstrating commitment and motivation… in their school holidays! Not too bad 🙂

    Thanks for pointing out the typo -fixed.


  3. Hi Edna, it sounds like you are enjoying the summit. I agree – the focus on the what/how shouldn’t come at the expense of the why – otherwise we have no purpose. That said, there are times when people ‘just want to know how to do stuff’ and this is presumably driven by some sort of purpose…

    It’s when someone else ass[out of]u&mes we have the same purpose that the waters get clouded.

    Rob 😉


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