Here is another example. I was at the Juneau airport for a flight and took a moment to look around for a water fountain. I spotted what looked like one from across the room, and walked over. Upon closer inspection, it did not look like the regular fountain, but like a filling station with a drinking fountain. Now I started to fill my water bottle the old way, holding it at an angle while I attempting to capture the stream of water. While I was waiting for it to fill, I inspected the entire device and saw the picture of a water bottle in the back with a stream of water going into it. I ignored it, and attempted to finish filling my bottle which I could only get 1/4 full because the angle was all wrong for filling. I went and sat down and began to ponder the picture. It occurred to me that it was a way to fill my water bottle all the way. I went back over and attempted to use the picture to fill my bottle as directed. It took me several tries to figure out how to exactly use the device, but as soon as I did, I was very excited about this new fandangled water bottle filler. And it was fast to-boot. I went and sat back down and watched the water station as others went over to use it. Many looked at it then shied away, much like I had and did not use it. Then when my spouse came over I total him to go over to fill his water bottle. Like me, he followed my exact steps. But when he came over with 1/4 filled bottle, I told him about the device in the back and told him to go back over and figure it out. He was frustrated for a moment, got it and then was also excited. I yelled at him across the room and said, "Isn't that cool?" and he looked at me with a big grin on his face. Another woman saw the exchange, and joined in and said, "Yah. I thought that was really cool, too. Finally an easier way to fill water bottles."
At the core of this design is the premise that we learn best when we are needing these skills in our typical workflow. Even better, we know from research that teachers are more likely to implement these new skills when they are in the classroom. Thus bloomed the full process of the ITLP.
In it's heart or essence, ITLP supports teachers by encouraging them to learn the basic skills of technology a little at a time. In addition, these basic skills can be modified or advanced by helping the teacher to set a larger technology goal through the use of the learning plan. Hence the ITLP is really composed of two parts. Part I the learning of basic skills, and part II the implementation and demonstration of these skills through a larger personal goal set by the teacher.
But there is still more complexity to this issue. You see, at the core of learning technology is Troubleshooting. One of the basic skills that we need for teachers to learn, in order to learn the many other skills needed, is troubleshooting. Thus when a teacher encounters an issue or is unsure what something is they can use their skills to seek an answer. Building on the idea of life long learning.
Which is what brings me around to writing this post. Upon receiving my new AKLN laptop, I became instantly frustrated with the trackpad. Now I have used laptops since, well forever, and I was stumped why I could not make this new trackpad on my Apple Macbook work. So what did I do, I googled the issue: trackpad scrolling
I immediately found this blog post: http://iboughtamac.com/2007/03/10/trackpad-scrolling-on-a-macbook/
This person had the same issues as me, and with little fear, was willing to share in his community the issue he was having and his discovery that he had made. Now though the answer may have seemed obvious to others, you will notice that many of the comments also added additional suggestions and ideas to build on the knowledge, rather than shaming him for not knowing. Because in actuality, there are very few (I cannot think of any really) people that know everything about all technology. It would be equivalent to a doctor knowing everything about all aspects of medicine, in detail. This just is not reasonable.
Learning, whether it is technology or any new skill, means being willing to step up and take the risk to not know how to do something, or perhaps even look a bit foolish trying to figure it out. That is part of the learning. Taking the risk. I applaud all 32 teachers in our Cohort 1 who bravely stood up and were willing to come back to the table at the RISK of looking silly or foolish for not knowing, and learn the skills needed to become more proficient at technology.
So who can or should do an ITLP? Anyone, even Bill Gates or Steve Jobs! Because in the end, we are always setting new goals and challenges for ourselves to learn new technology and become more efficient and effective at teaching using those skills. Next time someone calls you a Noob, stand up proud and say, "Yep, I choose to take the step and learn because I am a learner and I will always be a learner. "
Knowledge is Power.