When Seth Godin wrote his book Linchpin, he had people like Patrick Vannebush in mind. Last night (July 7th) Patrick was the guest speaker on Maria Droujkova's Math 2.0 Live! Elluminate session and he spoke very eloquently and passionately about his work as one of the technology leaders at NCTM.
As people who read my blog know, I have this "love/hate" relationship with NCTM. On the one hand I'm dismayed by NCTM's continued conservative stance when it comes to promoting their technology principle while their support of the other 5 principles (equity, learning, teaching, assessing & curriculum) is loud and clear. Since I'm all for equal time for technology and I wanted to do a non-confrontational protest of some recent decisions that the NCTM board made about the use of technology at conferences (i.e. vetoed support for using Wifi at their annual "showcase" conference because it costs too much) thus discouraging the use of a technology that is currently ubiquitious in society. Instead at NCTM meetings where you still have to line up at their anachronistic "Cyber Cafe" which worked in the late 1990s-and early 2000s when the Web 2.0 was still emerging. Since NCTM provides discounts for affilate groups (of which CLIME is one) I was able to exhibit and promote Math 2.0 which is a synergy between the use of powerful math software tools in a Web 2.0 environment in math classes. Though it was fun sharing example how math ed will be transformed by these current and emerging technologies at the conference, it was discouraging to see how far we still have to go to educate our math teachers on its potential.
Which brings me back to Patrick. Since the idea of CLIME began 23 years at an annual meeting in Washington with a vision promote a constructivist, student empowered way of learning with technology,i've been involved with NCTM as a affiliate president, conference planning committee member at the national and local level (1999 and 2004) and on several committees, I have met a lot of people intimately involved with NCTM and the surprise was that weren't any conservative folks who were trying to keep us in the 20th century, but were truly people who were interested in reform with technology being at the forefront.
So NCTM by its a nature is conservative, yet at the same time is encouraging and doing some creative & innovative work. Patrick is one of the points of light that has emerged on the NCTM scene that bodes very well for the future and the direction that NCTM is headed.
Read more about Calculation Nation and the Illumination project at NCTM.
Hear Patrick's archived presentation on Elluminate July 7th, 2010.