Friday, July 3, 2015

Don't Judge Their Learning

Subtitled: You Don't Know Me

I watched the Twitter feed during ISTE and saw educators comment on the lack of "learning" going on in sessions. "More of the same" they would tweet or "It's more than just about the tools" others would add with an annoyed emoji thrown in. I was struck by the fact that others were determining the value of sessions for others. I would guess I have been guilty of this myself. Who am I to decided what is learning for someone else? It really made me think about the type of learning I do and how others might perceive it.

Many of us could be considered conference veterans. We have seen many of the same sessions over and over again and have decided, perhaps long ago, what learning looks like for ourselves. However, we should not be the judge of what it looks like for others. There were 20K attendees at ISTE this year. How many of them were there for the first or second time? How many are still trying to figure out what learning looks like for them?

I learned plenty from the sessions I attended my first few years that were just about "the tools". With a better understanding of these tools, I was able to explore different methods of instruction feeling confident I can use different tools to make it possible. That is how I started. Is that the wrong approach? I'm not sure, but I would be really annoyed if someone said the sessions I attended did not support real learning or thinking.

Attending ISTE, and any conference really, allows me to take control of my learning because that is where I am. I think anyone that considers themselves an ed tech leader should be mindful of the fact that not everyone is in the same place and that their journey in the educational world with be their own personal journey and they will get where they are going when they are ready. Our job as an educational community is to support anyone willing to take the trip.

Learning happens in the the strangest of places at the strangest of times. Let's not belittle those who find it in places others do not. It does not help anything. 


  1. So true. We're all on a journey and it's not okay to mock those who are earlier on in the journey.

  2. Yep. You are absolutely right. Even if presented with the same content, I can always learn it differently. A closed mind is not open to learning. Thanks for the post.

  3. I think it's also important to keep in mind that we attend to learn for others as well as ourselves. I have had requests from teachers looking for certain tools/apps and often use conferences to help find these ideas. It happened again this year. While I don't attend many sessions, I still walk away from the conference with things I've learned - and I'm sure those things are very different from others.

  4. This is a fantastic post! I was dismayed at some of the tweets I saw in the hashtag that seemed judgmental and jaded. 99% of participant tweets were people genuinely excited about their learning and excited with the new connections they were making...and then there was the 1%. No names...but the "if you don't agree with me, then you just don't get it" crowd. I think you really nailed it with this post. Thanks!

  5. Great points. What I saw in the tweets were a frustration that we are not moving education forward faster. Sometimes it seems like we're still talking about the same things we've been talking about since the beginning of the 21st century - like why do we still call them 21st-century skills in 2015?? I've attended conferences that were phenomenal and others where I thought, meh, I could've learned the same things from people in my district for way less money.

    We all do come at things from different spaces, and I think there has to be room at the table for the naysayers as well as the cheerleaders.

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