IT and Education: Journey from Prague to Singapore

John Mikton has traveled the world teaching children and keeping his pulse on Information Technology and how it relates to education. In this post he shares part of his far flung unique IT career, but if you want to hear more of his stories, visit his site. We think it’s important to hear other perspectives about how different people and institutions approach all things digital and how they affect our children, and our own education and career.

hugs from Singapore

Years ago I had the opportunity to work with Jamie McKenzie and we were chatting about change, and how in institutions change agents within the organization often have the most challenging time. He said, “There are no prophets in your own backyard.” To this day, as I myself have been involved in facilitating and leading change in schools and organizations, this phrase has stuck to my mind, and often I have found solace with these words.

A couple weeks ago our school hosted John Davitt, writer, teacher, software developer and mentor. He spent a few days working with my IT Team, our faculty, students, parents and administrators. John at many levels surprised our community, even though a software designer, information technology advocate, and gadget user, his focus, interactions, conversations, and emphasis over the three days was always on learning.

For many who expected someone so closely involved with information technology and software development to be very IT focused. His pace, lens, perspectives and conversations, he facilitated, continually revolved on what environments do organizations need to leverage with adults and students that makes learning both engaging and meaningful. With any change this process is critical, and to focus on the tool or mediums is an error.

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John provided us with the opportunity to re-frame our own evolving understanding of integrating information technology in schools. We had been trying as an IT Team to engage our faculty to this understanding but we are not sure folks are always hearing us. It is only about learning! John from the outside of our backyard provided the push and shift for others to understand this. Engaging with this understanding is what will provide the meaningful change for any organization. The tools and mediums will come and go, but learning is timeless and in whatever context or environment you live in, without this key “verb=learning” nothing changes or evolves.

I think we, as schools and organizations, have come to terms with these dynamics and structures that facilitate engaging and meaningful learning. I am not convinced we have yet come to terms with, as schools and organizations, the unlearning required before we can relearn or learn new concepts and essential understandings that our digital world and economy are now requiring us to engage with.

I know for myself I am much better at learning something new, than trying to unlearn something, and then have to from scratch re-learn or learn. Today with the volatility of our world and the realities that surround us all, many of the learning we have adopted and been carefully groomed with will not sustain us long term. For a significant change to occur and allow us to re-frame our understandings of learning, we will be more successful if we equip our schools and organizations with environments which support un-learning in a compassionate and meaningful way.

Okay I am not saying everything I have learned is useless, no! I believe when trying to re-learn or learn, to often my previous learning pigeon holes me into a mindset that prevents me from engaging with fresh, uncluttered and an open mind to all learning possibilities.

The days ahead of us, will be different, very different, whatever we may hope and believe. For schools and organizations to ensure that we are equipped to engage with these challenges, we need to develop a clear set of structures and pedagogy that provide us with meaningful and engaging environments to unlearn….. because through this process all of us will be better learners.

John M. Mikton
http://www.beyonddigital.org
http://www.beyonddigitalworkshops.org

John Mikton

About John Mikton

Director of eLearning at the Inter Community School Zurich Switzerland, formally Director of IT at the International School of Prague. An Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer, Principal Training Center http://www.theptc.org/ Course Facilitator, and international school educator. I have worked in International Schools in Tanzania, China, Japan, Czech Republic, and currently Switzerland. I have been an elementary teacher, Information Technology Specialist, IT Coordinator and IT Director. Previous to this I worked in Media Sales, in Boston Massachusetts (Warner Communications), and San Francisco California (The Bay Guardian). I facilitate: http://beyonddigital.org, http://beyonddigitalworkshops.org/ and consult for Education Institutions.
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