Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day

I remember learning about Ada Lovelace some 25 years ago. She was such a pioneer both as a woman and a thinker. As, really, the first programmer for Babbage's difference engine, she was an innovator.

As part of Ada Lovelace Day, I am helping to celebrate by honouring some women who, I feel, have helped to advance the role of computing in education. I am privileged to work with some women who have been on the forefront for many years.

I first met Bev in the 80s when we were members of ALICE (Association for Leadership in Computers in Education) which brought together the early adopters in the English school boards in Quebec. She always championed the aspects of computer integration which encouraged critical thinking, creativity and communication - those skills which we now refer to as 21st century skills. She was and continues to be forward thinking. Bev has pulled together a team of people who have worked for many years to achieve those goals. What started as a grass roots effort has evolved through several incarnations into LEARN. I have learned so much being part of that team for the last six years.

One member of the team, with whom I work closely is Christiane. She has been involved for many years with telecollaborative projects. In addition to initiating a number of projects which enabled teachers to learn to use technology for collaboration in a secure and nurturing environment, she found ways to help teachers make connections when they were ready to initiate projects of their own. The most recent development has been the launch of a project registry. Now teachers from Quebec and from anywhere in the world can advertise their projects and find partners for collaborative knowledge building. She is helping to open classroom walls to let the world in.

I have the fortune to be involved in online communities that put me in touch with many forward-thinking educators who push my thinking and learning. The third person I want to honour is my fellow webcaster, Lisa Parisi who has embraced the possibilities of technology to reach every child in her class. She involves them in authentic learning situations, reaching out to other teachers to offer collaborators and audience for her students. Like my colleagues, she is a life-long learner whose enthusiasm for what she does is contagious.

Ada Lovelace was ahead of her time - the early adopter extraordinaire. I think if she were alive today she would be astounded by what computing has evolved to. And I think she would be thrilled to be part of the social networks that have evolved that support communication, learning, relationships, collaboration and problem-solving.