Is technology a tool or an end? Is the web a mass of information that no one could possibly understand let alone master or is it a provider of connections to help understand the world? There is so much I have to learn about using technology that at this point in my learning it seems more of an end, than a tool to help me help students learn. I think back a few years ago to the professional development my school provided with Chris Toy. One of the ideas he shared that has been running through my head this week was about innovation. He had us think about the first teaching/learning that began with writing with a stick in the dirt. This moved onto writing on a scroll and slate. Eventually paper was developed and writing was portable and easy. In the classroom the teachers first had a chalkboard. Then it was a whiteboard. Lessons could be written in different colors. Overhead projectors allowed the teacher to keep the lessons from one year to the next, but most lessons were still the same and the technology really did not provide help for the struggling students or change the method of instruction. As computers became more popular the lessons were saved on the computer and could be shown year after year. Although the technology had changed the teaching, “the sage on the stage” had not.(That is a very brief explanation of what Chris shared) Where am I and where do I want to be in the use of technology?
Christensen and Horn discuss in Disrupting Class: Student-Centric Education Is the Future http://www.edutopia.org/student-centric-education-technology?page=2 one of the biggest challenges to using technology effectively is that technology is not being used to transform education, but educators are trying to fit new technology into existing strategies of teaching. The idea of disruptive innovation is interesting. It really is necessary for us as educators to think about the students who are struggling or not being reached with traditional methods and how we might become “the guide on the side” to those students using technology to find their interests and take control of their learning. As we step out of our comfort zone, at least for me it is stepping out, to help even one student our confidence will hopefully increase to where we can provide opportunities for all of the students.
One of the things that excites me as I begin this journey into increasing my understanding and use of technology is the collaboration that is available. World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others http://www.edutopia.org/collaboration-age-technology-will-richardson gives a variety of examples of how collaboration can and is happening via the web. Each blog or article I read gives me new ideas. It would be impossible to implement all of them, but if each week there is something new I have tried and then shared with students, colleagues or parents, I know that it will be worth the challenges.
Another challenge of thinking out of the box and using technology can be the parents. Particularly when working with lower elementary students and sometimes even older students, parents don’t want their child “on the computer” for “so long.” Parents need to be educated to the value of new technology and be given the training to feel comfortable with what their child is doing. We often fear what we don’t understand or haven’t done before. Most parents are familiar with computers and often are learning on them, but still expect to see their child’s education looking the same as what they experienced. I am looking forward to sharing with the parents of my present students some of the exciting and new learning we will be doing using technology this year. Presently I am working on publishing a classroom blog for the first time. This will be a way to share with the parents what is happening in the classroom on a weekly basis and to see technology in action.
Technology is here to stay and to be used. There is a lot of information and ideas out there and I am excited about the possibilities.