Embracing Innovation

Welcoming Remarks

Good morning everyone and welcome to Poughkeepsie Day School.

My name is Josie Holford and I am head of school here at PDS.

Our twitter hashtag is EIC11. That’s  E for Embracing, I for Innovation, C for Conference, one one for 2011. Please use for your conferences tweets.  And if you don’t know what I am talking about attend Shirley Rinaldi or Heidi Echtenberg’s workshop this afternoon.

It’s wonderful to welcome attendees from all kinds of public and independent schools and colleges from at least four states. I hope your journey here was problem free.  I know our Massachusetts contingent set out early but will not be here until mid morning.

First a few thank-yous.

This conference is the result of a partnership we have with ICG – the independent curriculum group. ICG is a consortium of forward-looking and innovative public and private schools all of which know  – in the words of  PDS senior Fatima Hosain “You can’t bubble in the answers to life’s great problems” .  If you don’t know about ICG check it out on-line. The executive director – Bruce Hammond  is here and will be speaking  at lunchtime.

I am also delighted by the cosponsor ship of NYSAIS – the New York Association of independent Schools and for the support of its exemplary director for professional development Barbara Swanson.

There are many to thank here at PDS for their work on behalf of this conference.  And I am extremely grateful to the PDS staff for their hard work in preparation and for their continuing attention throughout the day. Thank-you too to the director of technology David Held for his tireless efforts to keep us all connected and to meet the relentless demands of the tech anxiety disordered.

One person who has shepherded this project from the beginning is Elizabeth Vinogradov, the director of the high school. She has been the driving force – and the creative force – behind it all and I want to thank her for bringing us all together for this exciting day of learning.

The title for this conference – Embracing Innovation in a time of Disruptive Change emerged from her early conference planning last summer. And it’s a good one.  If you don’t think we are living in an era of incredible disruption then you are – in that rather dismissive phrase – not paying attention.

There are scholars who believe we are still to coming to terms with consequences of the invention of the printing press. If we still don’t understand the full impact of the centuries long print revolution, how do we make sense of the extraordinary digital revolution which is transforming just about everything at an extraordinary and accelerating pace.

Disruption is the new normal. Even in education.

Today have to educate for a changing world where children are born digital and are growing up global. And and the adult task is to help them thrive in a future that we cannot predict.

In this context, embracing – welcoming, seeking, building capacity for  – innovation is a basic survival strategy.   Being innovative – using our imagination and intellect to create and experiment are how we adapt to change and how we invent, make and shape the future.

And fortunately we are living in a golden age for learning. We have all the tools for learning that earlier generations of progressive educators could only dream about.

It is possible, now, to imagine new roles for schools within a new ecology of learning made possible by the tools of social technology and the abundance of information.

This ubiquitous and abundant access to learning lifts the phrase “lifelong learner” out of the wishful thinking of the mission statement and into reality. And because the social web honors multiple intelligences and thrives on diversity, that learning can be for everyone.  When great universities make their content available to all there is no excuse for ignorance.

In networked learning, reciprocity – the push and pull of information – rules. Across generational and physical boundaries learners are users, distributors and creators of knowledge

And when we enter into that world we find something astonishing  –not only are there amazingly brilliant and accomplished people in the world, but they are –  total strangers –  willing to share what they know and reach out to help us.

Today we have the opportunity to learn with some of those brilliant and accomplished strangers –  and friends.

I am very grateful to our presenters. They are all extraordinary educators and today they will be sharing the ways in which they have embraced innovation to do the important work of learning and teaching.

And one of those who exemplify – and is helping  to shape –  this era of abundance for learning  – is our keynote speaker Will Richardson.

Will is “Learner in Chief” at Connective Learning and the author of  Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms now in its 2nd Edition.

He’s a national advisory board member for the George Lucas Education Foundation.  He writes a quarterly column called “Web 2.0″ for District Administration magazine, and he’s a regular contributor to journals such as Educational Leadership, Edutopia, English Journal and others.

I recommend you become a regular reader of his blog Weblogg-ed to keep up with his thinking and reflections on the world of learning.

He tweets as @ willrich45 and I recommend following him.

So – welcome everyone to what promises to be a great day of learning.

And  so Will – it’s a privilege to welcome you to Poughkeepsie Day School. . Thank-you

1 Comment

  1. Laurence Warren:

    This is a message for Josie Holford:
    I have seen the commenton your website about “my” grandfather Frank Sims and can only guess that you posted this. He was also my grandfather so we must be cousins. I have just visited his grave in Taranto. It would be nice to hear from you and I’d be happy to send you some pictures if you wish.

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