Digital Discussion in Central California
“It was really nice to share the day with our colleagues and other executives in Fresno,” stated LeiLani Cauthen, CEO of the Learning Counsel. “This event was particularly noteworthy for the level of real conversation. Our friends there in the Heartland of California have a tendency to really speak their mind and ask the tough questions. It generated a lot of meaningful comments back-and-forth to each other, more than most other cities.”
The day was hosted in the downtown Fresno County Office of Education by Dr. Mark Archon who championed the event to ensure that all the districts in the area get the knowledge they need to support the task of transitioning to digital curriculum and devices effectively.
“Midway through the day we re-swizzled our regular agenda to tailor it for this group who we’ve worked with for three years now,” stated Dr. David Kafitz, the Host of the day. “As we were going through the leadership exercise, I found these educators were surprisingly interested in what it really means and how it would get done in the real world. The meaningfulness of the transition was definitely, in that exercise, not lost on the Fresno people.”
In practical terms the exercise brought about a realization of the burden that tends to be put on teachers to try to match-up with every single standard and demand. It also helped bring about understanding of how sophisticated a district needs to be regards your software mix—the platforms you have to decide on and how it’s going to work in your organization, what analytics you need to have and who does what between the instructors and administrators.
Because it was the Learning Counsel’s third year in Fresno, the day got to a deeper level of tactics than is seen in most cities. “Some of the comments and the questions asked were pretty philosophical. I was really impressed,” stated LeiLani.
During the days discussions we had a moment to talk to Mr. Kurt Madden, the Chief Technology Officer at Fresno USD, about the controversial question of social media and its use in classrooms. “We definitely believe in collaboration between students, and between students and teachers. But currently we block Facebook, Twitter and most of the social media sites,” said Madden. “It’s not that we even think they’re bad, but at this point in the conversation, until we work out how to make them productive, they are going to be a distraction—for everyone. For now we use Microsoft Office 365 and Yammer and let them work socially and collaboratively within a closed network.”
All the executives who attended took their copies of the 71 Characteristics of Digital Curriculum special report as well as their Learning Counsel workbooks which contained an updated glossary of terms, exercises, strategy for digital curriculum transition and description of model architecture.