Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Model to Solve a Few Professional Learning Challenges | #digilead

This past April, I was fortunate enough to have been asked to speak at the Moanalua High School Professional Development Conference in Honolulu, HI.  It was an incredible opportunity to get back to Hawaii for a professional event as opposed to a vacation.  This was the fourteenth time the school had put on the event and it was awesome to see and meet so many passionate educators on a Saturday. Besides the great learning and connecting that took place that day, the number of educators who traveled to the event from the neighboring islands impressed me. Many of these dedicated educators flew in early in the morning and flew back later that evening, while others stayed overnight in local hotels.  Talk about making a commitment to grow and get better!

As impressed as I was about seeing educators travel from neighboring islands to take part in and present at the event, I could not help but feel a bit sad.  My sadness arose from the fact that these educators had to make an additional financial and time commitment to travel to this conference in Honolulu.  This is when it struck me how difficult and challenging it is for educators from Hawaii to not only attend events on Oahu, where they are mostly held, but also on the mainland of the United States.  When you look at major conferences such as ASCD, ISTE, NASSP, AASA, and NAESP, to name a few, are always held on the mainland.  

The cost of travel and the time difference prohibit the majority of educators from HI from participating in and taking advantage of, these events, as well as countless others.  This is not fair, to say the least. As much as Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s), as well as other blended and virtual options, have begun to compensate for the challenges that isolated and rural areas of the world face, many educators appreciate and still find great value in face-to-face learning experiences.

As I reflected upon this professional learning conundrum that Hawaiian educators, as well as those in rural and isolated parts across the globe face, I came up with a possible solution.  In my new role with the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) I saw an opportunity to address the main challenges of time, distance, and money that face educators. I floated the idea to some HI educators about bringing a two-day Digital Leadership & Learning Academy to some of the islands. After overwhelmingly positive feedback, I pitched the idea to ICLE and immediately got the green light to begin planning these events.  

I am proud to say that our first academies will be held this fall on the islands of Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island.  The hashtag we will be using is #leaderedHI. Registration is open for any and all educators from Hawaii or even beyond to attend these events. For more information and to register click HERE. You can view the agenda there as well as the learning outcomes for the two-day events, which are also listed below:
  • A vision to create a culture focused on rigor, relevance, and relationships that is enhanced by technology
  • Practical support for using digital technology to engage stakeholders, improve communications, and enhance public relations
  • Innovative approaches to creating learning environments for today’s connected students
  • Concrete strategies to drive meaningful school change in the digital age
  • Professional learning and action plan that will empower faculty
  • Ways to create structures and supports for engaging learning spaces that reflect the real-world environment students will experience
It is our hope that these hands-on, interactive events will provide a powerful learning experience for a fraction of what it would cost to attend events in larger mainland cities. Attendees will not have to front any money for travel and lodging as each event will be commuter friendly. In the future, we see this as a solution not just for the Hawaiian Islands, but other isolated and rural areas across the United States and the world. If your school or organization is interested in hosting a Digital Leadership and Learning Academy, let me know.

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