The EdTech Team Brazil Gafe Summit

So.
This is a hindsight post. You might be finding this a bit awkward but trust me, there’s a good reason for that. The EdTech Team Brazil Summit featuring Google for Education (São Paulo, May 16 and 17, 2015) was certainly the most intense learning experience I’ve had this year. We spent two days attending great sessions and networking with other passionate professionals and educators who were eager to share and connect. My group (Carla, Samara, and Sílvia) put together a long Google doc in which we recorded the ideas and insights we got attending the sessions. Going over it now, half a year later, I am reminded of the exhilarating feeling of learning something new all the time. Talk about real flow.

If I were to forget every detail of the summit and be left with a single word or feeling, it would be EMPOWERMENT.

I learned how empowering it can be for a student to have the opportunity of creating a solid digital portfolio that showcases his talents and achievements. A well-cultivated digital portfolio will follow a student for years, even into his academic and professional life. What a wonderful and rich addition to one’s résumé a strong portfolio can be. These ideas were discussed in Holly Clark‘s inspiring session Rethinking Assessment with Digital Portfolios, where she also shared some practical tips on how to help students build their portfolios, as well as how to enhance learning by means of self-assessment. Again, the word that comes to mind is empowerment. If done right, growing a digital portfolio may actually become a sort of map for the student to find his calling. It could be the beginning of one’s life work.

In my a-ha moment in this session, I wrote:

Digital portfolios are all about digital citizenship and building their (students’) personal brand online. The stuff they curate shows who they are. It teaches them about design. (Friends don’t let friends use word art **lol**) Students need to learn to purposefully populate what they have associated with their name online.

I also learned the empowerment that comes from the connections we make, and what we learn from people who share a common passion. Being immersed in this edtech environment has taught me a lot about what I’m going to call the edtech ethos, that is, the characteristics and behaviors of a specific group of professionals. These guys were all about learning by doing, discovering new ways, hacking new paths. And they were also about the pleasure of sharing something they just learned with the person sitting next to them. Feeling that everyone has something to bring to the table is empowering, indeed.

In hindsight, the experience I had in this event inspired me to push forward in my professional projects as an Ed Admin. I basically learned that wonderful things can happen when you bring together a group of people who share a common passion and a purpose: to learn as much from each other as possible so that we can impact the people who make us teachers who we are: our students.

The next stage of our Google Classroom project was major. We went from 12 to 50 teachers using Classroom in our school. That happened a couple of months after the Summit. I can’t help but feel that we’ll be seeing more ripples become waves after this awesome learning experience.

A ripple that has become a wave…

mywhy

7 comments

  1. What a great hindsight post, Clarissa. You have achieved a whole lot since then and the results have been amazing. I am a true believer of digital portfolios and peer and self assessment and am so glad this is being used more widely in our institution. Our TDC students put together a digital portfolio with their selected writings and projects and it is indeed very empowering. The way you guys have created this community and wave is impressive.

    1. Thank you, Isabela, for your support and enthusiasm. There’s much more I hope to accomplish on the portfolio front and am glad to have such a visionary leader to rely on and look up to as yourself.

  2. Clarissa, I’m interested in the portfolio idea as a form of claiming our efforts as authentically won plus as a tool of being a conscious learner. Sometimes we need to remind others that we are serious about our growth.

    Curious about your role as administrator. Where we live there are so many people in charge there aren’t enough staff to act on the decisions they make. There are whole pastures full of decisions shuffling aimlessly around.

    1. Scott, you touched on an issue that I believe to be our greatest challenge in using portfolios: how to foster the conscious learner mindset in our young students. I’ll come back to this here with you.

  3. Clarissa, in art class we did portfolios to demonstrate that we had some claim to a place in the world. Not just dreamy and lost in ourselves but tangible actors with presence. This was very hard for some I think they had never been asked for THEIR thoughts and as students we were used to only being asked for what others thought.
    How do we come to feel worthy to put ourselves out there? To show what we can do? Some are confident and just blast ahead but that leaves a lot of students behind. And even confident people can hesitate when they feel less than competent. How to remove the barrier of not being “good-enough-yet” might be possible with a portfolio where a student can see their path and understand it as growth from effort?
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    1. Scott, you have no idea of what the ripple you caused with these two comments is now becoming. I’ll certainly reply to you but will do so in my next post. Just to give you a hint: as I was meeting with my projects partner Carla this morning, discussing portfolios, I showed her your comments… Well, to find out what happened you will need to read my post. I’m actually counting on it, and on your impressions. Abraços, amigo. Talk to you soon. And thank you.

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