Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Guest Post: Sheli Blackburn on The Digital Leader Network

@Sheli Blackburn is a tireless educator who is responsible along with @Chris Mayoh and others for running the Digital Leader Network. Like TechKids, the programme I run, Digital Leaders is a huge opportunity for children of primary school age, who have an enthusiasm about using technology, to learn, hands on, the skills of using their knowledge to support their learning, other students, teachers and their schools. It is an ideal way for children who have a tech skill, interest or ability to meet and work with other students who share their enthusiasm and to provide positive encouragement for other children with similar abilities and the recognition that those abilities are both valid and valuable - which, sadly, is too often overlooked, under appreciated and under utilised. It is the TechKids' privelage, here in Brunei, to be the only South East Asian member of the  DL Network.

The digital leader network

The digital leader network collaborative blog has grown in a very short time and has proved to be a good place for teachers and digital leaders to showcase their great work in school. That is the whole purpose of the blog- to showcase, support and inspire others so that they may too employ digital leaders in their schools. Although my initial ideas about the network were very grand (linking schools across the UK and beyond) the blog is a solid start to spreading the benefits of having digital leaders.

I attended the Naace third Millenium hothouse in July this year, hoping to network and extend my ICT knowledge, skills and understanding. I was asked to provide a 'workshop' on the digital leader network and was delighted to be given the opportunity to spread the word again. The reason for this? In my view digital leaders are the best free resource in schools - a resource that could potentially have a huge impact on ICT development. I am passionate about this; passionate about creating sustainable solutions for keeping up with developments in an ever-changing area of education.

The workshop proved to be popular and became fully booked, leaving Nick Jackson (whose digital leaders recently led a teachtheteachers meet) without a place. This turned out well for me as it was a great way to get him up front and sharing his expertise. When I realised that Chris Mayoh was attending the workshop, I decided it would be silly preaching to an expert, so asked him to come and share his wisdom too. It proved to be a good idea as it not only gave a change of pace, but we were able to show how digital leaders are being employed in both primary and secondary. We each brought different experiences to the session and of course a change of pace is always good. You can view my prezi here, watch @ChrisMayoh's digital leader interviews here and @largerama's prezi and one of his films here. Of course these do not capture the discussions that went on, but they paint a picture of the work that is going on in our schools.

Before the session I had the idea to ask others to leave a pledge on the digital leader linoit. This would give some indication of the impact of the workshop. Incidentally, at the end of the session I asked how many teachers already had digital leaders in their schools. Two hands went up. The response to 'Who will employ digital leaders now?' was quite overwhelming. I am not surprised though. I think between us we showed the impact of a free resource available in all schools.   

Please add your pledges!

My pledge is to try and emulate Chris Mayoh's success in Bradford, in Norfolk. I would also like to host a digital leader 'kids meet' (this should have happened last year) and hopefully get our children to the Bett Show. This can only happen with support from others - and once again my twitter PLN come up trumps with their enthusiasm and drive to make this work. Yes there are a few 'negative disruptors' out there (see a great post by Jill Duman), but they are a very small minority and are easy to ignore. Nobody in this project has claimed to be the owner, initiator or leader. It will be a successful project because of its collaborative nature and because it is a good idea!

If you are interested in learning more about the digital leader network, come and join in #DLchat on a Thursday night at 9 during term time. You will meet inspirational tweeters who have been there right at the start of this project: @ICTevangelist @ChrisMayoh and @MrsMeeks64. You will also come across hard working tweeters who have given up a lot of time and put a lot of energy into this project - @aknill @largerama @traceyab1 @gr8ICT @ashmrkenyon @mbrayford @mikeyjohncarr amongst many others.

Acknowledgement must also be given to @ICTmagic and @eslweb who often help out with archiving, @PrimaryEdTech for his overseas input, @JenniH68 for her hard work with edmodo and @kristianstill, @MrStucke and @bobharrisonnet for their continued support and inspiration.  Thanks also to @janwebb21 for giving us the opportunity to spread the word further.

Please add your pledge!


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