Will Richardson | Helping Educators Reimagine Schools for a Fast-Changing World and an Increasingly Uncertain Future

Will Richardson

Helping Educators Reimagine Schools for a Fast-Changing World and an Increasingly Uncertain Future

Will Richardson
Featured Keynote Programs

Learning in a Networked World

Whether it’s online safety or information literacy, all too often we treat the new challenges that online learning networks are creating as discrete parts rather than larger, more general changes in how we do our learning business. For instance, online safety is not something we teach in the second half of seventh grade; it’s a part of every interaction online, and certainly it should be a part of every curriculum in the school. Even with our youngest students, we have to be able to model our interactions in our own learning networks and teach them safe, effective and ethical use. We’ll look at eight of these important global shifts and see how teachers and schools are already starting to integrate them into the classroom in seamless, ongoing ways.

A Web of Connections
Why the Read/Write Web Changes Everything

Having the world of information at our fingertips on the Web was in itself a powerful transformation, but being able to contribute our own knowledge and ideas and collaborate in the construction of content is even more powerful. What needs to change about our curriculum when our students have the ability to reach audiences far beyond our classroom walls? What changes must we make in our teaching as it becomes easier to bring primary sources to our students? How do we need to rethink our ideas of literacy when we must prepare our students to become not only readers and writers but editors and collaborators as well? How do we best put to use the reams and reams of “digital paper” that this new “writeable” Web provides?

A Shifting Notion of What it Means to Teach

The incredible resource that is the Web is changing much about what we can do with our curricula and our students. The classroom is no longer restricted to four physical walls, and it is becoming a truly collaborative space in which to learn. Every student can be a contributor of knowledge to the world. This networked classroom is a more complicated place for teachers, but it’s also one filled with incredible potential for learning. This keynote challenges educators to rethink their roles to make maximum use of the tools and information now available to them.

From Information Literacy to Information Leadership

Assessing the relevance and reliability of information is a crucial skill for all educators to master and model. But that type of information literacy is only the beginning. With the explosion of information coming online, school leaders need to employ successful strategies for finding, managing and communicating what’s significant for their own practice and for that of their constituents. This workshop will cover the tools that information leaders are using and the strategies to use them well.

Connecting Ideas and Knowledge

RSS is a powerful yet fairly untapped tool that educators can use to easily track many sources of information and knowledge. But it’s also evolving into an effective way to connect people and ideas in ways that we’ve be unable to before. Using RSS, we can not only read what others write, we can read what they read, and even read what they create in easy, time-saving ways. This session will take a look at the tools and strategies that can make RSS an integral part of every educator’s professional development and practice.

Empowering Modern Learners
The Opportunities and Challenges of Educating in the Networked World

If we have access and the skills to take advantage of it, the Web gives us an easy connection to the people and the resources that we need to learn whatever we want to learn, when we want to learn it. That fact challenges the fundamental beliefs that we’ve held about schools and teaching and learning for over 100 years. As our students graduate into a fast-changing, globally networked world, what assumptions do we need to reconsider about how to best prepare them for their futures? How can each one of us begin to change our own learning practice to better model these new opportunities for our students? And what new challenges do we have to overcome to make sure the idea of school remains relevant in the networked world in which our students will live?

Modern Literacies for Modern Learners

While it may seem like it, the biggest advance of the last 15 years has not been the Web and hundreds of technologies that connect us to it. No, the biggest shift is what that connectedness brings us, the new reality that each one of us can now stand as the central organizing force in our own learning, education, and work. With our growing access to the sum of human knowledge and billions of people around the world, we decide what we need to learn, when we need to learn it. We develop our own pathways to an “education.” And we as individuals have the power to create and share and bring beautiful, meaningful, important work into the world. The institutions that used to mediate those interactions, schools, publishing houses and corporations among them, are all now struggling to maintain relevance. In this moment, those who understand the powerful affordances of the Internet to learn and create will flourish, and those who understand how to leverage those affordances for the greater good will lead. That requires a whole set of new literacies, ones that deal with not just reading and writing but collecting, creating, connecting, sharing, and sense making. In this institute, we’ll explore these shifts, and we’ll begin to develop a context and a practical framework for helping our students become literate, self-directed masters of learning and making in this new, interconnected world.

From Old School to Bold School
Redesigning Schools for the Modern Era

The main premise upon which schools were founded, that content and knowledge and teachers are scarce, has literally been turned on its head by the Web. Today, we carry the sum of human knowledge and access to millions of potential teachers in the phones in our pockets. And in a host of other ways, the idea of a “traditional” school is fading in it’s relevance to the new ways we and our students can learn. Given that reality, what changes? How do we rethink our roles as schools, classrooms and educators at a moment when our students have a growing number of options to cobble together an “education?” This session will discuss the paths that a number of “bold schools” are taking to fundamentally redefine their value as places of learning, not of content and teachers. We’ll discuss the challenges of remaining an “old” school, define the main characteristics of “bold” schools, look at schools that are already bridging the gap, and suggest ways to begin relevant, “bold” conversations around real change in our own schools and communities.

The New Realities for Modern School Leaders

School leaders are faced with a set of compelling, complex new realities when it comes to thinking about learning and education for their students. These new realities form the basis of an important new lens for decision making at every level of the school community. And, importantly, they lay the foundation for the creation of a more relevant, modern vision of teaching and learning in the classroom. In this presentation/workshop, we'll examine what those new realities are, what they mean for schools, and how to best bring them into the important conversations we need to have to move our practice forward.

Personal Learning Networks
The Future of Learning Realized

Learning is social, we’ve all known that. Now, with the Web, it’s globally social. To flourish as learners in a connected world, we need a network, one that we can trust, one that we can turn to when we need answers or inspiration or direction. While we’ve always crafted these “Personal Learning Networks” in our face to face spaces, the literacies of doing so online are a bit more nuanced and complex. This session looks at what PLNs are, how they can influence our learning lives and future success, how to begin to construct them using various Web tools, and what the implications are for our students, our schools and our professional practice. We’ll also look at how diversity, balance and safety enter into the learning equation online.

Meeting the Moment with Fearless Inquiry
Using Questions to Design a Relevant and Just Path Forward for Schools.

To say that we live in an historic time is an understatement. Arguably, we find ourselves in a “hinge moment,” one of those relatively short periods between eras that is defined by dramatic change and palpable stress. It throws us off our center, and it breaks the narratives we’ve become accustomed to living by. It challenges our understanding of ourselves and our institutions, requiring us to ask and attempt to answer the foundational questions of who we are and what we want to become. In this session, we show how "fearless inquiry" into those questions can be a powerfully effective tool for designing a new experience of schools for students and teachers. steps.

9 BIG Questions for Not Going 'Back to Normal' in Schools

As we begin to see a small light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, the pull to going "back to normal" will become stronger and stronger. But let's remember that "normal" is what caused many of the challenges that we face today: social injustice, income inequality, climate change, rising populism, and information illiteracy. For educators especially, instead of going back, we need to go forward to create schools that are more relevant, more equitable, and more just for all children. To do so requires a deep interrogation of the fundamentals of our work. This keynote will challenge you to grapple with nine crucial questions on a personal level, and to confront a new narrative for educators in this moment of huge disruption and change.

Regaining Our Bearings
Reimagining the Future in a Post-Pandemic World

Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying "The best way to predict the future is to create it." Now, as the lockdowns and quarantines begin finally to ease and our exhaustion mercifully subsides, the most pressing question for schools is what type of future will we create? Will we go back to the time worn practices and pedagogies of the traditional school that are increasingly out of step with the way the world operates today? Or will we see this disruptive, change-filled moment as a chance to recalibrate, to engage in some fearless inquiry and clarify a more relevant, more effective path forward for our kids? This session will focus on some "activities of hope," starting points for understanding the opportunities and challenges ahead, and for creating a solid foundation for reimagining our work in this increasingly complex, no-normal world.

New Leadership Lenses for a ‘No Normal’ World

Creating a new future of schooling calls for educators and leaders to see the world as it is, not as it was. It requires understanding new contexts, and building new lenses around vital questions of world, purpose, change, power and our stories. Your communities put trust in your schools’ ability to lead and navigate the volatile, confusing realities, from the pandemic to climate to racial justice, an “infodemic” and economic uncertainty – all on top of the changing learning landscape. Let me push your thinking to embrace the new realities, or lenses, of the post-pandemic world. Each of the lenses will help you frame new questions and conversations that are fundamental to creating an experience of school for kids that will help them move beyond surviving, to thriving in whatever future they inherit.

Navigating the Infodemic
Literacy a "Post Fact" World

What does it mean to be "literate" when everyone is a media outlet? It means our conception of "literacy" is changing. It has to.The explosion of social media and easy to publish-to-the-world tools has been happening for over two decades. And in many ways, that has given voice and reach to many amazing thinkers and doers and creators who we couldn't connect and learn with in the past. But ubiquitous publishing has its downsides. Now, in a world where almost anyone can say anything, fact and truth become less clear. And right now, we are in the midst of an "infodemic" of scary proportions. Every day, more and more misinformation, "fake news," and abject lies are shared online to increasingly larger audiences who are looking to confirm their own biases of how the world should look and operate. If we cannot discern what's true and what is a fact, we are in very serious trouble, as a society, and as a planet. More than at any time in recent history we need the skills, literacies, and dispositions to separate good information, people, and technologies from bad. This session dives into the scale and scope of the Infodemic, the challenges for schools and classrooms, and some tools and strategies to help "vaccinate" ourselves from the harm it causes.

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