Monday, July 1, 2013

Are You Ready to Scrumble?

As teachers, we know taking time to reflect upon both major and minor events in our personal and professional lives is imperative for growth to occur. It has been really enlightening to read the reflections of so many talented educators that attended ISTE this past week. Like so many of my peers, I have spent some time trying to sort out everything I experienced at this conference, both the positive aspects and the "let downs."

A common sentiment I keep hearing is about the sessions offered at ISTE. Many people blogged about how they were disappointed that numerous sessions revolved around apps and devices with little discussion of the intangibles of EdTech. These educators, and myself included, feel a little let down that there were not more formal opportunities to explore issues of teaching rather than purely issues of technology.

Over and over I read about some of the more important experiences teachers gained from ISTE, and they all involved connecting with people and building relationships. The conversations were what people found most enlightening. At #ISTE13 I Found the One Tool That Will Change Education!, a blog post by Amanda C Dykes puts it much more eloquently than I can:
Okay, so we know that educators want, no- they need, more than just sessions about technology. We need to interact, talk, collaborate, and problem solve together. We can do that in the Blogger's Cafe, over coffe or dinner, and even at the Unconference event. But what I am seeing and hearing is that this is not enough. We want this to be a bigger part of the conference events. We want it to be more thoughtful and deliberate.  

I remember thinking throughout the conference that I didn't think I would ever be comfortable standing in front of so many people delivering information about an app or device, or even pedagogical theory. I began to realize that this is not because I am not confident in what I know but that this is not how I best learn information. It is no longer my primary method of instruction in the classroom. Plus, it allows for very little, if any, collaboration with the other people in the room.

How do I learn best? Where do I thrive? I am at my best when I talk, think, laugh, and debate with others. I thrive when I am free to use resources all around me to gain more information as it is relevant to the discussion and meaningful to the problem solving process. For me, innovation comes from the freedom to allow my ideas to flow and change with the ideas of others.

And then it hit me. Scrum Sessions. For those of you that are not as familiar with this brainstorming and problem solving strategy, TechTagert gives an excellent definition:
Scrum is an agile software development model based on multiple small teams working in an intensive and interdependent manner. The term is named for the scrum (or scrummage) formation in rugby, which is used to restart the game after an event that causes a play to stop, such as an infringement. 
Scrum employs real-time decision-making processes based on actual events and information. This requires well-trained and specialized teams capable of self-management, communication and decision-making. The teams in the organization work together while constantly focusing on their common interests.
Now, this is a technique that is meant to happen over a period of time and in a software setting, but what if we took this concept and applied it to an ISTE session (or sessions, depending on the level of involvement and topics involved)?

Just hear me out on this.

Instead of one or two presenter giving information to a large group, small groups work together to discuss, brainstorm, and make action steps for change around an issue or topic for which they deeply care. People with diverse backgrounds and experiences collaborating and challenging each other and the status quo. Within that session we would have the space to write, research, talk, challenge, and solve. Then, at the end, each groups is able to share whatever it is that they come up with during the session.

The purpose would be to have relevant and meaningful conversations. There would be the possibility of finding solutions or at least gaining new perspectives. It would enable deeper topics to be explored while also encouraging collaboration.

Am I crazy, or could this work?

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