Building Online Communities for Ongoing Professional Development

Abstract:

The symbiosis between education reform and the integration of technology into learning is profound: technology requires the rich learning environments envisioned by reformers; reform demands the power of technology to put people at the center of their own learning. Systemic adoption of reform will take a critical mass of educators, who must await the realization of the promises of technology to transcend isolation and join in collaborative professional growth.

We who are concerned about the future and direction of education face a scalability problem: reform requires these educators to rise to the level of performance typically encountered in master teachers. This realization can invoke a sensation of paralysis. The resulting inertia mirrors the way fear of technology prevents many of our peers from having the experiences which would enable them to embrace, then direct the potentials technology savvy educators rhapsodize about.

While observable models of the new practices and paradigms are still in the discovery stage, there is an example in the arts which may illuminate the types of changes that will be required, as well as the unexpected means by which large scale transformation can occur. To extrapolate these lessons, we need to examine one of the cultural high points of the industrial revolution, the emergence of the symphony orchestra, and compare it with the global phenomenon of the 20th century classical music: jazz.

Ferdi Serim is uniquely qualified to talk about both worlds. As an Internet pioneer, his students' achievements have been featured in the Scientific American, the Los Angeles Times, the Learning Channel and other media. As a musician, and artist in residence, he won national recognition for his work with Dizzy Gillespie, who called him "a pretty good drummer" before a radio audience of 750,000 people. Prepare for an unusual blending of disciplines, metaphors and rhythms in this presentation.