Putting Technology In Its Place

I just read two blog posts yesterday that echo some of the ideas I’ve been wrestling with lately concerning the place of technology in the classroom, and I’d like to share them here.

Background:  As my school’s Library Media Specialist and Technology Coach, I have a responsibility to provide appropriate resources to my students and teachers, and to make sure they know how to use them.  With so many useful (and free) technology tools available out there in cyberspace, I want to make sure I’m keeping up with them, using them appropriately, and sharing them with those who need them. 

However, I don’t want to become so focused on the “coolness” of technology that I lose sight of my ultimate goal, which is student learning.  I also don’t want my attitude regarding the importance of technology to become so overbearing that I alienate teachers who, for various reasons, are hesitant about using a lot of online resources or tech tools.  I need to balance my role as a cheerleader for Web 2.0 with my role as someone who assists users with what’s actually going on in the classroom.

Enter Jennifer Wagner and Joyce Valenza, two educators who are doing wonderful things with technology at their respective schools.  Continue reading

Don’t Integrate Technology Into the Classroom

Surprised by the sentiment expressed in the title of today’s post?   So was I when I read it in David Warlick’s book Redefining Literacy 2.0.  (See the accompanying wiki here.)  Since I became my school’s Technology Coach earlier this year, I’ve been concerned that we aren’t doing enough to equip teachers to successfully integrate technology into their classrooms.  So I picked up David’s book at the SCASL Conference last week, and here’s what he says in the introduction:

There is one call to education reform that will not be used in this book, a mantra that attendees to technology and media conferences often hear, that we should be integrating technology into our libraries and classrooms.  It is an idea that is not without its usefulness.  Integrating technology is a simple and inclusive way to describe the modernizing of our schools.  However integrating technology misses the point that technology has no special place in re-examining the pedagogy of teaching and learning.  It is merely a tool – the pencil and paper of our time.

So what should we be doing?  Read on: Continue reading

May You Live In Interesting Times

  screen technology

There’s no doubt that there are interesting things going on in education right now with regard to technology!  I think we will all agree that we can’t equip our students with 21st Century Learning Skills without incorporating technology into our teaching.  Serving as both the Library Media Specialist and the Technology Coach for my school, it’s my job to look at the issue of integrating technology into the classroom from four different perspectives:

1. What are “best practices” when it comes to using technology in instruction and with students?  What strategies will enable us to be more effective users of technology?  How can we make time for training, collaboration, and integration in an already crowded school day?

2. What are the technology literacy, media literacy, and information literacy standards that we should be addressing for each grade level?  How do our content standards mesh with these literacy standards?

3. What tools are affordable and available in my school and my district?  How much tech support can I manage at the building level?  How much tech support is available at the district level?

4. How can I ensure teacher and administrator buy-in for technology integration projects?  How can I involve more stakeholders in the planning and implementation process?  How can I be an agent for change in my school and my district?

I’m struggling with the answers to all of these questions, particularly the last one.  That’s why I’ll be participating in a free webinar on April 5, 2010 at the TL Virtual Cafe.  The webinar is titled What it Means to Be a Change Agent in Educational Technology, and will feature Ben Hazzard and Rodd Lucier. 

Rodd Lucier I’m familiar with, since I’ve been following his blog (The Clever Sheep) and listening to his podcast (Teacher 2.0) for the past year and a half.  I’ve never heard of Ben Hazzard until now, but even a cursory glance at his website tells me that he’s someone to watch. 

You’ve probably heard the title of this post referred to as “the Chinese curse,” but you may not realize that it’s supposedly the first in a trio of curses.  The other two curses in the series are, “May you come to the attention of those in authority,” and “May you find what you are looking for.”  One can only hope….


Photo Attribution: “Screen Technology”

Life-Long Learning

I just finished viewing the 7 1/2 Habits of Lifelong Learners video, which was interesting to me because it presents a different viewpoint of learning – putting the learner in control of the process and outcome.  Too many of us in education keep all of the learning “power” in our own hands, rather than allowing our students to make decisions.  Even within a set curriculum, there ought to be room to factor in the interests and strengths of the individual learner, perhaps in the topic chosen, the resources used, or the end products created.  Starting now, I plan to look for ways to give students more freedom of choice when it comes to projects.

The easiest of the habits for me is accepting responsiblity for my own learning.  I have always been willing to read and research new things, attend workshops and trainings, and play around with available technologies.  Although not a digital native, I attended college in the 80s when computers were beginning to be widely used, so I’ve used them enthusiastically throughout my professional life.

Ironically, the most difficult habit for me can be using technology to make my life easier.  That’s because sometimes it seems as though the amount of time it takes to become proficient with an application outweighs the time that will be saved in the end, or that the time to learn a new skill just isn’t available at all.  It’s probably Habit #1, Begin With the End in Mind, that will help with this problem.  If I can pinpoint a particular task and recognize that there is a more efficient way to accomplish it, then I can feel good about taking the necessary time to become familiar with the new way of doing things.