Dean Shareski posted the other day about Possibility v. Probability, where by he addressed the issue of building an infrastructure within his school where change was seen as urgent and necessary in regards to how we use technology in our teaching. This same idea, in various forms, is one that I find myself answering to both internally and with teachers that I work with. The most frustrating aspect of my job so far has been the feeling that teachers don’t see the value in what I do in regards to their own teaching methods. There are two disconnects I see in the schools today: complaints I hear regarding cell phone usage, the ubiquity of iPods, and the persistent time-wasting of online gaming and social networking through MySpace and Facebook and the lack of change in pedagogical methods to captivate that audience and use those ideas and technologies to draw in the learners, and the sore-thumb syndrome, whereby teachers are using technology for technology’s sake rather than as a tool that will foster growth and understanding. Below, is a great clip from Stephen Downes as he responded to Dean’s post and follow up question of what schools will look like in five years, followed by my own comment:
Comment by Stephen Downes
May 26, 2007 @ 6:54 am
there’s no easy answer to that. Schools change very slowly, so although
there will be increased penetration for tech (usually sanitized to
separate students from society) things will look much like they will
today. There will be increased pressure – especially from the U.S. –
for alternatives, but it will be difficult to separate educational
ventures from commercial ventures.
Meanwhile, online media will have gradually become more pervasive
and more immersive. It will occupy an increasing amount of students’
time. Online will be – indeed, is already – be thought of as ‘normal’
and most students will be in constant communication with their friends
(watch out for loners shut out of this network, as they will be more
isolated than ever).
Mostly, school will be about socializing and learning pushed to the
back burner (at least, for students). There will be an ongoing (and
losing) battle by teachers to prevent students from using their
technology. The number of schools breaking down and accepting the
online world will increase. Adoption will be uneven, with urban schools
being at the forefront, rural schools late adopters.
The students’ real learning environment – their online world – will
penetrate the school environment one class at a time. Innovative
teachers will attempt to actually remove students from the school
grounds much more frequently than in the old field-trip days (this
allowing for 100 percent use of online techs). The amount of school
time actually spent ins school, as an average, will constantly decrease
(in five years it should be roughly 80 percent, give or take a lot; in
ten years it could be down to 50 percent, give or take a lot).
Comment by Patrick
May 27, 2007 @ 4:44 am
on where you are, as Stephen said above, the ratio of innovative
teachers to traditional teachers will fall in favor of transformation.
For districts that lie in the suburbs and are truly committed to having
their schools remain centers of community outside of athletics and
arts, the shift is essential and the acquisition and support of
“shifted” teachers will bely their success at being involved in the
real learning process of their students.
This thought process that you had, Dean, is one that I have been
struggling with as I attempt to penetrate(I hope that word doesn’t
sound to pugnacious) classrooms that don’t necessarily see the need for
change. My biggest issue is with the technology not being as
transparent as it should yet. I have several teachers dieing to use
“technology” in their classroom, and several Professional Improvement
Plans submitted by teachers that use that terminology “integrate
technology” but what for? It’s apparent that they are taking that step
just for the sake of using technology. What about making it
transparent, so that it’s just another tool, like heterogeneous
grouping, that they they use to accomplish the goal of learning? That
is where my biggest disconnect is: the technology sticks out too much.