Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Dr. Heisserer Uses the Network (and how it could help us have fewer and shorter faculty meetings)

The Hixson Network is one of my favorite projects.  I focus weekly time and attention on updating it so that it can serve our learning community better.  Many of the reasons I have for designing and implementing such a network are similar to hallmarks of 21st-Century learning and learners.  Students have access to a variety of innovations outside of our classrooms and school.  It is to our (and their) advantage if we learn to leverage these on behelf of teaching and learning.
Let me explain why I prefer . . .
  • Multi-Tasking to Single-Tasking
  • Geometric to Linear Thinking
  • Collaborative to Independent Work
  • Sharing to Individual Ownership
  • Inductive to Deductive Thinking
  • What and Why to Just What
  • Multi-Media to Text
  • Virtual to Physical
  • Multiple to Single Sources
  • Creative to Mechanized
  • Self-Directed to Other-Directed
 . . . and how these preferences relate to why I use the Network, how it helps us leverage our time, and how all of this relates to designing learning opportunities for our students.
The Hixson Network allows us access to multiple tools that support the multiple tasks of teaching; whether these are management or learning tasks, they are represented on the Network.  In addition to access to support for multiple tasks, the Network allows for multiple voices (this year, the PBIS committee and our coordinators will have dedicated Network space, faculty and staff will have access to posting on the bulletin board, and I have plans for representing other voices as well) and allows us to collaborate given that we can access the information virtually as long as we have an internet connected and given that we can comment and give feedback directly to posts and surveys.  The asynchronous and non-linear presentation of the information allows for multiple ways to access and prioritize the information on the Network.  This means that I can explain what we are working on and why in creative, non-linear ways that you can access according to a variety of options. Even though I have some expectations about when and how frequently you access the Network, there is still some room to choose when and how you access this (some teachers read these posts on their phones, other Monday morning, others at home on Sunday).
The Network allows us to leverage our time.  The Network is an excellent source of information and learning that we can embed in our lives in a variety of self-directed ways.  If using the Network as a resource becomes a matter of habit we can trust in one another and for which we can hold one another accountable, we can use faculty meeting time for other things.  For example:
  • We may have shorter faculty meetings given that the background, rationale, and context for topics or projects have been set and reviewed prior to our arriving in our meeting space,
  • We may have shorter faculty meetings because we have taken it upon ourselves to heed the information and learning on the Network in such as a way as to avoid the need for reminders and/or nuts and bolts agenda items.
  • We may use faculty meeting time as extra team, department, and/or plan time as necessary.
As a faculty, we should plan to gather to think and learn together.  Although the Network allows us to this virtually, asynchrously, and together, this cannot always replace time together.  However, if our time together can be made more purposeful (and if we can use faculty meeting time for other and better purposes), I beleive that we should pursue it.
Finally, these preferences, reasons, and principals for the design of the Hixson Network are comparable to the learning environment preferred by our students.  How can the Network be a model for how we design learning, use our own virtuals spaces, and think (or re-think) the principles of learning that guide our work?
I'm interested in your feedback.  Go ahead, leave a comment below and begin the conversation. =)

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