What’s so Great About Kim Cofino?
Let me rewind everything a bit before I begin an launch into an somewhat adulatory blog post about Kim Cofino and her workshopping skills. My own perspective on the whole technology and learning business is particular. I have only been around a short short while in the ‘first world’ of technology in schools, as it were. My wife and I worked in Tanzania for four years, four very beautiful years that we talk about often and still miss in a good way. But it was, as a friend put it, a deep, deep dark hole, technologically speaking. You can probably appreciate how that experience was positive as well as challenging. Last year, my wife Samantha and I (and the kids) moved to Muscat, another place that we love (for different reasons, which is great). As I settled in to my new teaching job, and my world started to slow down as the newness of everything wore off a bit, I noticed opportunities around me at had never existed before. People around us were talking about the learning opportunities that technology can offer, there was hardware around that worked well, and, dulcis in fundo, there was bandwidth to support it all. I realized that I was emerging from the deep hole. (We’re getting close to where Kim comes into all of this.) The rest of the world seemed closer than it had been before. And the rest of the world is packed full of learners, young and old, teachers and students (not that teachers are necessarily old and students are necessarily young, not at all that way). I began to get excited about it all, and I wanted to know more.
In this last year I have started to read and dialogue (some) with people all over the world, and I have been learning from all of them. I have built and dismantled and rebuilt a network of learners and teachers that have inspired me along the way. Kim’s “Always Learning” was the first blog I kept once I began thinning out my RSS list. This last week end I went to Abu Dhabi for the NESA Fall Training Institute, and Kim Cofino was leading our two day workshop. Making the Shift Happen, it was titled. Most of the participants in the workshop either knew Kim or knew of Kim, and she was received rapturously. After the two days were over (Kim was sent off rapturously as well), I sat in the hotel and waited for my late plane. There were a few fellow work-shoppers dotted around the hotel reception area, all waiting for their own poorly planned return flights. I reflected on what I had learned, and thought about how I was going to report back to the Technology Committee that was meeting the next day at school. I began making a list of what I had enjoyed about Kim’s workshop. Kim herself had been very knowledgeable, she had been gracious with everyone (that’s a tough one, kudos Kim), she had been flexible and always checked in with our needs, and she was a great listener. I came out of the workshop with many ideas, several tools that I know that I’ll use, and armed with some pretty powerful knowledge to use when I’m my tech agenda at school. But this list alone could not account for the sense of inspiration that I felt growing in my mind. So I began to try to understand where that little bolt of excitement might have come from. I’m still not sure exactly where it came from, but it was evident to me that Kim is a very passionate torch bearer for the Shift that she talks about, and she is able to communicate that passion clearly and in a concrete way. But beyond Kim’s ability to communicate her ideas well, I think that her passion is derived from her message. My interpretation of her message is that today’s students deal with more information more frequently and more skillfully than possibly any previous generation of students. And that today’s students learn and communicate in ways outside school that we cannot ignore inside school. And finally, that today students have a whole world of collaborators at their fingertips, literally. A whole world of other learners with whom they can collide their ideas and generate new whole new ways of thinking with (see Steven Johnson’s video for a beautifully articulated and illustrated version of the above sentence). Kim presents us with is an inspiring shift to be making.