I remember just a few years ago, we focused on learning how to use technology tools. I took a look at our technology curriculum (5yrs old) and that was pretty much what that curriculum was all about. Learn to use the computer, Learn to use Office Applications, Learn to keyboard, Learn to communicate, Learn to find information on the Internet.
Lets fast forward to today. In just a short time, it seems as though the world has transitioned from learning how to use the tools, to using the tools to learn. We can no longer use technology tools just for the sake of technology or because our kids are tech savvy!
David Warlick pretty much hit the nail on the head when he stated,
It is not a bad reason integrate technology – to motivate learners with more familiar information experiences. But what bothers me is that it appears to ignore the greatest and most critical reason – that an increasingly connected, technology-rich, information-driven, and rapidly changing world alters the “what” and “how” of education.
We are no longer preparing children with the skills and knowledge that they will need for all of the rest of their years. In my father’s time, it was common to graduate from high school (or not), take a job, and do that job for the next 35 or 40 years, retire, and live another 10 years. Expectations were not much different when I graduated from high school almost 40 years ago.
But today, I suspect that much of what we teach won’t remain valid for five years after graduation – and that may be a generous statement.
Our focus should not be on using technology to make our students easier to teach. It should be on crafting learning experiences, within networked, digital, and information-abundant learning environments, where students are learning to teach themselves, and begin to cultivate a mutually common cultural and environmental context for for their lives.
Online learning, Web 2.0, Social Media, and the Participatory Culture are all having disruptive affects to the learning of our organizations, classrooms, staff and students. These terms also coin new skills that will be relevant to our students as they leave our school and go to college and/or global workforce.
We have always been fortunate. We have a great community, greatschools, great staff, and great kids. But I am becoming increasingly worried that if we do not address these new learning environments and new skills needed to be TRULY successful in the 21st century, we are in trouble…
So what are our roadblocks? I am not at all an expert here…but these are the big roadblocks I see to move us from a traditional industrial aged district to a 21st learning institution.
- Education. We need to educate ourselves to understand the affects the new media can bring to the learning table. (This also means to be motivated to become a self learning organization.) This is probably the most significant issue because when we talk or hear about these new technologies and learning environments, it is very difficult to promote their use, when key leaders and teachers are not using them themselves. A personal example is my recent use of Twitter. I knew what it was, how it worked. But I NEVER fathomed the learning potential of this new tool until I started using it. This is my aha moment, what aha moment have you had lately? Why not share it?
- Computers. I have seen a significant rise in computer use in our schools. This is good! As more teachers begin to utilize web/electronic media in their classrooms, our computer labs are becoming utilized more and more. The problem is that we are also are utilizing computer labs for state and standardized testing. We literally shut down our labs, for weeks at a time, to accommodate these tasks. Take away the computer time, we are taking away their learning time. The other day, I did a count of all the wireless devices (like iPods) in our high school and was amazed to find about 1 in 5 students are bringing these devices to our school. Of course I would LOVE to see a 1 to 1 computer program in our school, but until then, maybe we should figure out how to utilize the devices our students already have access to. They come to our schools with the Internet in their pockets… why not use these tools to our advantage vs developing policies to prohibit their use?
- Time & Money. This is probably the most difficult issue of all. Our economy is down the tubes and we are stretched to the max with responsibilities beyond our control. It is going to take some time and is definitely going to take some money to get there! However, If we do not step up to the plate now, what will it cost us five years from now? What affects will this have on our students, our community, and our society?
I know this may come across as doom and gloom, but I do feel that have an extraordinary advantage because we have very VERY talented people right here in our district and community. What are your ideas? How can we start making a change today! This is not going to be a one man show, but a movement by many! So are you interested?