DENSI 2011 – What the DEN Knows

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I learned a lot of new things, and had some of my ideas about instructional technology, education, and networking reinforced at DENSI 2011. I had a great time too! Most importantly I learned what the DEN knows, and why it is an important part of my professional learning network.

The DEN Knows….

…that students aren’t empty containers into which teachers pour our knowledge. The DEN knows that students come to us with their brains full of their own ideas about the world in which we live, and that the real task of the teacher is often to change these impressionable, yet often stubborn minds. Teachers refute the erroneous thoughts and ideas of students. We mold and deepen their understanding of concepts, and correct misinterpretations and misunderstandings, while guiding them to a clearer understanding of every subject we teach, and themselves. We are more often tasked with correcting student misconceptions than providing the first encounter with a concept or idea. One of the greatest weapons in my arsenal for combating student misconceptions and confusion is Discovery Streaming. DE Streaming provides me with engaging, quality media that is relevant to my curriculum, appeals to student interests, and helps me bring concepts to life. DE webinars make the world interactive by bring it directly into classrooms, providing students with a seat at the table of world events. Webinars that allow students to engage in discussions and broach questions to government officials, scientists, and other professionals about important issues, allows them to see themselves as participants in important events, and citizens of the world. These are wonderful opportunities to foster connections between real life events and the curriculum we teach

…that two heads are better than one, communication is key, and professional learning networks are priceless.

At a time when the institution of public education is undergoing significant changes and turmoil, teachers are facing uncertain futures, and a changing educational landscape; the DEN creates and fosters an atmosphere of collaboration and camaraderie. There are place cards at the table of what works in education for teachers, administrators, technology specialists, media specialists, curriculum designers, trainers, students, parents, and the business community.  People from various backgrounds, positions, and roles in education across the nation and Canada, share ideas and resources, and discuss issues through the DEN. The DEN is a professional learning family, we don’t always get along, but we are always there to support each other, and are bound by a love of teaching, learning, and instructional media and technology. We are truly our best apps.

…that technology is not a substitute for good teaching.

The DEN knows that technology should be used to enhance teaching and learning, and not be used for its own sake. DE products and services are based on sound educational pedagogy, and enhance good quality content instruction, rather than replace it.

…that less is sometimes more.

The DEN knows that a Pecha Kucha is worth more than a 5,000-word PowerPoint presentation, and using technology with students does not have to be complicated. There is an entry point for teachers everywhere to begin using technology with students. Keep it simple, and encourage reluctant teachers to start small and slow at first. The important thing is that they get started.

…that instructional technology isn’t just for gifted kids.

The DEN knows that not just advanced and gifted students, but all students, can benefit from the opportunity to use technology in the classroom. Digital natives share a lot in common as do all generations. However, students can’t be standardized, and education must be differentiated for all learners. Discovery Education provides the tools teachers require to engage all types of learners, and implement Universal Design for Learning strategies to encourage academic success for everyone.

…that having fun is an important requirement for learning.

No one learns from boring work they won’t do, not even adults. Engagement, fun, relevance, and down time go a long way to enhancing connections among topics, and fostering creativity and learning.

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