Sunday, March 8, 2009

A vendor who "gets it"

My favorite blogger this week in Michael Summers. His blog SMaRT Education Initiative-1 to1 shows amazing insight into the challenges teachers and school face when attempting to teach with technology. Not a teacher but certainly a educator, Michael understands that teachers who don't use tecnology in their classrooms aren't backward or lazy. They just don't see how the technology available fits into the learning processes happening in their classrooms. He believes "it doesn't matter what we put into our classrooms, meaningful technology integration cannot work and will not work unless and until teachers are a part of the design process at the outset because teachers, not technology, will dictate the success of our efforts." And in order for teachers to want to be involved in the design process they must know "why technology is important; why technology is meaningful, why technology engages our students and why technology improves student outcomes. Because if [they] don't get beyond why, [they]'ll never get to how."

Standing up and telling or even showing teachers why and how isn't going to move them to adoption. No, teachers learn by doing and teaching. We must give them models to follow, opportunities to explore and practice, success and failures to share. New and improved equipment would certainly be a plus, but with limited resources it is not always an option.

Michael is a vendor whose job it is to sell technology to schools, but he argues, "Sometimes scarcity and lack are a good thing. It forces you to make better decisions, to focus on what's really important and to make better use of what you have. In the case of technology, some schools and school districts are woefully underfunded and the technology just isn't there or the technology that is there is out of date and hopelessly obsolete. But in many schools and school districts, the threshold issue isn't really the absence of technology, or the amount of technology, but how the technology that is already there is being used. Is this technology being used as a 21st century learning tool to promote deeper, more meaningful interaction with the subject mater, increased classroom collaboration and communication, more student-driven, project-based learning, innovative instructional practices and more differentiated instruction?"

Sometimes, I know I have been caught in this, we confuse of 21st century learning with 21st century tools. Here we have someone whose job it is to sell us the tools reminding us that whatever tools we have or use, our primary task is to teach 21st century skills.

1 comment:

  1. You're right, that really is very profound. I think a trip over to Michael's blog may be in order.