Tuesday, November 11, 2008


When I checked my email today I had a peculiar message from the United States Geological Survey about bloodstone and soda lite. Turns out that while my 8 year old daughter was researching rocks (their current science unit) she came across the ask a geologist link on the USGS website and used it to get some clarification on a few points about the above-mentioned rocks. When I called her to the computer, terribly excited that she had a response from a real geologist, she simply read the email, jotted down the pertinent facts and carried on. She expected to get a response and, now, she also has an expectation that she can and should be able to access not only information on the internet but also people who can clarify and expand upon that information.

At first those expecations floored me, but I have to admit my own expectations of the internet and learning have changed dramatically in the past 6 months. Through blogs, webcasts, Facebook and Twitter I have connected with a group of people who can clarify and put into context the information that I access. Keep in mind I am not an educator, or an IT professional and yet a university professor, a couple of Ed Tech integration specialists, a masters student, a fantastic teacher, other involved parents, a parent involvement advocate and many more have all answered my questions, encouraged my efforts and challenged my thinking. Their knowledge, experiences, expertise and sometimes silliness has made a huge difference in my ability to help with Ed Tech both at home and as a volunteer in the school.

My amazement has been what I thought a third grader getting a response from a real geologist would be. Our expectations are different. She expects what I could have only imagined. I wonder how schools and educators are ever going to manage and meet those expecations. The kids themselves are raising the bar and it looks pretty high from where I'm standing.


Ian H, said...

Now just be sure you hold all us teachers to account. Seriously.

Alec Couros said...

Penny, thanks for this post, and for my inclusion. I am very happy to be part of your learning network. Partly, of what you share with us, but I think in the bigger scheme of things, I know you will inform and inspire other parents to do exactly what you are doing. This is the way learning should happen. Parents, teachers, professors, media specialists, children ... we're all in this for the same thing ... learning, and we can all do this together. We can help and inform each other. We can connect on a daily basis. We can do what's best for the future of our children.

Thank you for becoming involved in the way you have, for informing our network, and for helping us understand a very important perspective.

All the best!

Tech Mom said...

Ian -- I think the key is not to hold teachers accountable but for those of us who are already comfortable in this space to roll up our sleeves and be the support, guides and mentors teachers need to meet the expectations of this new generation. I remember driving 1/2 hour to my grandma's to do a report bcs she had a set of encyclopedias. I felt privileged to have access to all that information. My daughter's reality is much different. She expects she can find what she needs without leaving our farm. Things have changed, we all need to pull together and support each other because whether parents or teachers we are all a bit adrift in a new reality.

Tech Mom said...

Alec -- can't wait until your kids are full on in school!! Oh the difference you will make! Your humour will serve you well in the mentoring I hope you will pursue with your own childrens' teachers.

Heidi Hass Gable said...

Hi Penny,
You've hit the nail on the head on several points!

My children are like yours - assuming and taking for granted a kind of connectivity that is often still mind boggling for our generation.

I remember helping my daughter research some information about the Ed Sullivan show for a speech she was writing. When I stopped to point out the irony of us sitting with a laptop, connected wirelessly, researching a time in history when they had barely imagined the idea of computers on a resource that had been built by thousands of poeple worldwide(wikipedia)- she just looked at me with that "so?" kind of expression.

Reading blogs and writing my own has opened my eyes to the possibilities, just like you talk about. I wouldn't be having half the conversations that I do now - with people around the world with a dizzying array of perspectives and experiences.

It's truly amazing, isn't it?!
Thanks for your post and for including me here!

Take care & I look forward to many more conversations!

C Seibel said...

Penny, thanks for sharing that experience and including me in your post.

I think your daughter is learning from a great role model - you. You are not afraid to work and engage others in networked learning. The power is in the network, and I am proud that you are part of mine.

What is more important than us, though, are the young learners that we are trying to support in this rapidly-changing world. Thank you for all you do. Keep it up!

Lorna Cstantini said...

And to think it is only been a few months Penny. My how your garden grows. With your leadership more and more parents will begin to enjoy the use of web 2.0 tools to support the learning of their children. Keep on going strong!!!