I love a good question, so I couldn’t very well ignore the inquiry throwdown from Ben Wilkoff earlier this week. In the running for Denver Public Schools Director of Blended Learning, Ben published the video below asking his network what they would do if they got the job. This isn’t because Ben is at a loss for ideas, but because he’s working to prove the larger point of his video – he plans on taking his network with him.
In a time when we pay much lip service to the value of connection, networks and the strength of weak ties, Ben is putting it to work and planning on leveraging it to do the important work of teaching the students of Denver.
Published as a vlog entry on YouTube, Ben’s video invites replies via comment or video. I’ve been thinking about my response since I heard about Ben’s call, and my hesitancy turns out to be my answer.
I’m typing my response to the video because recording online video isn’t a persona I’ve built yet for myself or a piece I’ve adapted my online persona to include.
That’s what I’d want from a Director of Blended Learning – someone who will help those within a large urban school district to evolve their understanding of their personae as educational practitioners to include new methods and media for helping students learn.
It’s something Ben does exceedingly well, and it’s why I hope he gets the job.
Somewhere in between the future, the present, and the past, we allowed it to be okay for teachers and administrators to identify themselves as “computer-illiterate,” or somewhere on a scale that includes the term. I’d want a director who sees all pieces and means of communication and leveraging learning to be part of who we are as educators and as learners. I’d also want that person to be someone who understands the difficulty of this shift of mindset for many and is willing to take the little steps necessary to help those many move forward.
Yes, I’d want practical skills, an understandings of classroom practices and online possibilities, but I’d want more than that. I’d want a director who finds joy in play, in learning, in problem solving and in working to help others. That joy can be infectuous, and I can think of no other contagion more necessary to our practice than the joy of learning, experimenting, and iterating solutions until they’ve become a solution to the problems at hand.
In many ways, Ben’s video posing the question illustrates these concepts. Rather than sitting in front of a camera and speaking, he drew from his repertoire as a creator, scholar and networker to craft a question rich in both depth and symbolism.
I’d want a director of blended learning who understands this shifting of how we deliver a message so that it can connect with readership across strata and experiences.
In many ways, the technical proficiency is easy (too easy) to find. Buzzwords like flipped classroom, MOOCs and even blended learning are easy to espouse. I’d want someone who could do all those things while asking questions, inspiring creative thought, and moving to make problems into solutions and opportunities for learning.
That’s pretty simple, no?