What does it all mean?
I’m not sure I know. My new job this year has enabled me to do lots of research (posts, Twitter, Ustream) that says, we MUST change the way we teach.
The future is unclear, and I believe we must help students learn how to learn, analyze and organize information, and collaborate globally and locally. But those are buzz words unless we really understand them.
So I invited teachers at my school to talk–about the way students learn, the way we teach, and what we need to do to prepare our students for the future (including creating a vision for our laptop program.
And, yes, my focus is technology because I do believe that using technology enables teachers to present material in a variety of ways, allows students to collaborate in innovative ways, and enhances what we do. But I have NEVER believed that technology in itself is the answer.
On the other hand, as a laptop school, we must use our laptops in efficient and effective ways (and this hasn’t been done the past two years). So I’ve encouraged people to try things (Voice Thread, Google Docs, wikis, blogs, etc) since I started working with them full time in September.
Interestingly, the first topic that we discussed was the resistance students are showing to using technology. Though they have had their laptops for email and note-taking (and game-playing) the past six years, this year we are asking them to push themselves in new ways. Teachers said that students told them using technology was too hard, too much on top of the content for the class. I received this email from the student government president today:
This past week, the student government hosted an Open-Forum
in which the students expressed their concerns and ideas with what is going on
with the Upper School thus far. One of the issues that
a couple of the students brought up was that teachers are trying to use so much
technology in so many different ways that it’s getting overhead.
I think you get the idea (overhead= overwhelming?) It’s the same message I heard from some of the teachers on Friday. It’s discouraging. I know this doesn’t represent all students, but I thought they would be encouraged we were trying to work with them in ways that meant something–their world, you know?
We need to decide if the technology innovation is coming too fast, or if students who are complaining are just not interested in going above and beyond the standard "write a paper" assignment. Yes, the technology can be confusing, and yes, the technology can fail (we’ve had issues with our network lately). But I am surprised this loud "voice" from the student body is so resistant to adding technological components to the curriculum.
And I’m not at all sure we need to define our laptop program. Shouldn’t it be seamless? Shouldn’t it be a part of what we do? If we start to define what it means, haven’t we separated it out from everything else we do? Shouldn’t we define what good teaching is? Shouldn’t we define how we want our students to learn?
Please weigh in on this. Our conversations will continue.
(Edited: and I just read this… on Patrick Higgins’ blog. And this:
I hate the AP review project. It is a
superfluous use of technology that only leads to frustration. More time
is spent organizing the page and competing with overachievers for
things to do then actually learning anything about history. Scrap it
please before it evolves into a worse monster that no one can manage.
[image: DeclanTM http://flickr.com/photos/declanjewell/]